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Chef Timon Balloo was born to Chinese and Trinidadian parents. His scrapbook of memories leads with days on the farm, ethnic recipes and a favorite pastime of watching PBS’ Yan Can Cook. Little did he know then that he would soon be on the fast track to a James Beard Foundation “Best New Restaurant” nomination and a host of other accolades that continue to reflect his dedication to seasonal, local ingredients that fuel his daily inspirations taken from the market’s freshest offerings.

In 1998, Balloo began his official journey down the path to a stellar culinary career. Through Johnson & Wales’ international program of extended studies, Balloo traveled to Belgium to work at Hotel M?tropole under French Master, Chef Dominique Michou. From Entremetier Comis (hot line) to Patisserie Comis, Balloo honed his classical culinary training skills. Of that time, Balloo says: “The vegetables and animals would often come straight from the farm,” Balloo recalls of that time, “it wasn’t unusual for us to have to skin and pluck the next dish… now that was farm-to-table cooking!”

Balloo considers his first real professional lesson – on humility in the kitchen – to be taught by “Professor” Allen Susser, one of Miami’s most influential chefs. “In Chef Susser’s kitchen, you were broken down and then built back up,” Balloo explains. “My time cooking at Chef Allen’s gave me a new respect for food.”

An opportunity to reconnect with Samba Brands Management in 2009 brought Balloo back to the growing restaurant group as Executive Chef and Partner of SUGARCANE raw bar grill, which opened in 2010. SUGARCANE took “Best New Restaurant,” and Balloo was dubbed “Best Up-and-Coming Chef” by Miami New Times and “Chef of the Year” by Eater shortly after its debut in 2010, and the accolades have never stopped.