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Sugarcane's Dinner With Friends Series Ends With Share Our Strength Fundraiser

Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill's Dinner With Friends series is about to come to a close with one last blow-out dinner party to benefit Share Our Strength.

The series, which pairs Sugarcane's Timon Balloo with a visiting guest chef, will host its final dinner at the restaurant's new private dining space, the Gallery, on Monday January 28 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $150 each and include the multi-course (and multi-chef) menu and beverage pairings (tax and gratuities additional). The dinner caps out at 25 guests.

Joining Balloo for the "last supper" is an all-star dream team consisting of Paula DaSilva (1500 Degrees); Dean Max (3030 Ocean); Jeff McInnis (Yardbird Southern Table & Bar); Jose Mendin (Pubbelly); and Antonio Bachour (St. Regis Bal Harbor).

We spoke with Balloo about his decision to end the series, friendship among Miami chefs, and his plans for 2013.

New Times: How did Dinner with Friends come about -- and why is the series ending?
Timon Balloo: It started off as a gathering of friends that encouraged chefs to do some interesting food outside of their current restaurants and interact with Miami diners. Really, the goal was just to build camaraderie between chefs. We had really good turnouts, great feedback, but a couple of other people are doing dinner series now, so we said alright, let's call it a day and let's come up with something else.

This final Dinner With Friends benefits Share Our Strength. A lot of chefs donate their time and food to benefits and fundraising dinners. Will we see more of this?
I love working with Share our Strength. We're converting these kids into chefs. It's a great cause. But seriously, I think whatever we can do to support great causes we should do. We actually did an event with Hedy Goldsmith for Alex's Lemonade Stand.  And there were a bunch of us cooking at a private residence. The chef community in Miami is very healthy. There are willing to bond, willing to donate their time, and support great causes. It's a beautiful thing. If we all contribute, then somehow in the long run we can get somewhere.

You've touched on the Miami chef community. I feel that there's been a lot of bonding and sharing -- mostly in the past year or so.
The Miami culinary scene is a fledgling in a very young city. Lately, there's really a food "following". You hear people call themselves foodies and diners are traveling outside their neighborhoods to restaurants.. Miami chefs used to say, "I have to go to New York to eat a a good restaurant". Suddenly, a group of chefs created the culture they wanted to see. On a business level, there were consumers supporting their efforts. That was the catalyst that allowed us to bond together, support each other, and eat at each others restaurants. That's why this culture is growing and I hope it continues to grow.

Tell us about The Gallery.
The Gallery is literally the gallery next door. We always had an idea of having a real art gallery and it evolved into a restaurant inside a restaurant. We do chefs tables there, feasting menus there. It's just a great space with a little cigar bar feel. We're hosting the Dinner With Friends there.

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How did you choose the chefs for the last dinner?
There's no rhyme or reason -- it's just about good people getting together eating good food and having a good time.  For example, Jose Mendin is coming to the finale. He and I go way back, but he just wasn't able to make it to any of the other dinners.

What's next?
We've got a couple of tricks up our sleeves.

Follow Laine Doss on Twitter @LaineDoss and Facebook.

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