Talking Taste: An interview with Timon Balloo

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Ahead of his cooking demo ‘How Burnt is Burnt?’, Taste Talks took a second to grill award-winning chef Timon Balloo on his food memories growing up to Chinese and Trinidadian parents, and what fans can expect when his SUGARCANE outpost opens in Brooklyn this fall.

In your mind, how burnt is burnt?

For me, ‘burnt’ is the bitter, acidic taste you get in charred food. But when paired and balanced well, that taste can give a very pleasant effect.

What’s a prominent food memory from your childhood?

My love for dim sum all started in my childhood. I love the hustle and bustle of carts dancing around the dining room, all with special surprises… some hot, some cold, some sweet, some salty!

Your background is Chinese and Trinidadian. What dishes from these cuisines did you grow up on? How has this affected the food you cook today?

Some dishes I grew up on were classic West Indian dishes like curry chicken or oxtail. These flavors and approach to cooking continue to inspire me–I’m always searching for the ‘soul’-like, mature flavors that build in home-cooked dishes like these.

You’re set to bring your award-winning SUGARCANE restaurant to DUMBO. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced opening a restaurant in New York?

The biggest challenge, like any new restaurant in a new city, is just learning the lay of the land–digging into the culture of Brooklyn and what guests here are looking for.

What can Sugarcane fans expect to find on the DUMBO menu? How will it differ to your Miami and Las Vegas outposts?

I’m focusing on a lot of vegetable cooking for Brooklyn. I really want to bring the bold, ethnic flavors that cities like Las Vegas and Miami are familiar with, but with a new Brooklyn spin.