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Timon Balloo just returned from cooking on a cruise to Italy and Spain.

Timon Balloo’s restaurant experiences reflect his diverse background. Born to Chinese and Trinidadian parents, the chef has been a part of some of the country’s most recognized establishments. After working the kitchen at Hotel Métropole in Belgium, he returned to the United States where his ventures have included a stint at the five-star Azul in Miami and time as Executive Chef of New York’s SUSHISAMBA. Balloo helped open the buzzed-about Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill in Miami as partner/Executive Chef in 2010. He recently returned from cooking on a European cruise and wrote in about the trip.

Where are you just back from?
Holland’s Food & Wine Mediterranean cruise. Our destinations were Italy and Spain.

What was the highlight?
Barcelona.

What was the lowlight? 
Sardinia. I didn’t really know where to go.

What is it like cooking on a cruise?
I’ve become a fan of cruises — this wasn’t always the case. I used to compare the concept to being a prisoner, with lots of restrictions and no escape. As it turns out, it’s vice versa. You are given ample time at ports and there is a long list of amenities while onboard such as sports, nightlife and dining.

What was the best meal you ate on the trip? 
Bar Pinotxo in the Boqueria market in Barcelona. Simple soulful food with great hospitality. Everything from the fresh gambas that they also sell in the market to judias beans with baby octopus.

Did you bring anything back? 
I came back with a more in-depth philosophy of cuisine and ingredients: the respect of eating the season and what’s close to you.

Do you have any other trips planned in the near future? 
Yes. I’m very excited and proud to be heading to Atlanta as a member of the advisory council for the 2013 Atlanta Food and Wine Festival. I can’t wait to get there and experience the southern revival in cuisine.

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