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Timon Balloo at Johnson & Wales University Dinner

The students at Johnson & Wales University's culinary arts program got a taste of what it's going to be like in the real world when Sugarcane executive chef and JWU graduate Timon Balloo took over the kitchen as part of the school's Distinguished Visiting Chef dinner series.

The event, held last Friday, January 27 at the University's North Miami campus, brought Balloo back on campus. Balloo graduated in 2002 and the former student became the teacher for one evening. And teach, he did.

"These greens are meant for 60 plates, so they have to last", Balloo told a student who was helping plate the first course, a golden beet salad with Burata cheese.

Balloo spent the day before the dinner with the students. His advice to the fledgling chefs and future restaurateurs in the class? "Work hard and do whatever it takes. Don't worry about the money. Work for free if you have to. You pay a lot of tuition. Why wouldn't you want to work at the best restaurants for free to further that education?"

Balloo was obviously impressed by the students, mostly freshmen and sophomores, who worked under him for the dinner. It was announced that Balloo has extended internship offers to the students when they were ready.

The Distinguished Visiting Chef series raises scholarship money for culinary arts students. Freshman Megan Wilson was the recipient of the evening's $2,000 award. The final DVC dinner in the series will feature Alex Pinero, executive chef at Sustain Restaurant + Bar later in the spring.

Golden rolls, fresh from the oven.

Golden beet salad with Burata cheese was the first course.

Pan-seared local snapper over a bed of garbanzo bean puree. Each plate was garnished with different flowers.

Diners became audibly giddy while eating the mirin braised short ribs, inspired by Michelle Bernstein's own short rib dish. Balloo worked for chef Bernstein and dedicated the dish to his previous employer/mentor.

Vanilla bean-soaked brioche with caramel apples and bacon ice cream. The flavors of brunch in one decadent dessert.

Chef Balloo works the line alongside JWU students.

DVC Timon Balloo poses with JWU culinary arts students.

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss