Bombay Canteen and O Pedro chef and founder Floyd Cardoz died at the age of 59 on Mar. 25 after testing positive for the coronavirus a week before. Cardoz was the executive chef of pioneering modern Indian restaurant Tabla, which he opened with Union Square Hospitality Group CEO Danny Meyer in 1988. He was also the culinary director of Hunger Inc. Hospitality.
After reading Arthur Hailey’s book “Hotel,” Cardoz knew that his initial plan of being a biochemist wasn’t for him anymore. Before coming to New York, he went to Les Roches culinary school in Switzerland. Cardoz worked in New York restaurant Lespinasse, rising through the ranks from line cook to executive sous chef under Swiss chef Gray Kunz. He soon helmed Meyer’s North End Grill and was Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters” season three champion.
“I remember walking into [Tabla] and feeling this sense of pride that I had never felt as an Indian,” says chef Asha Gomez. “To see what he had done to elevate Indian cuisine to the likes of French cuisine—because it deserves to be in that same light—was at the time mind-blowing to me.”
Cardoz left his mark among many aspiring Indian chefs. Mumbai chef Saransh Goila first heard of Cardoz when he was in culinary school, saying that he was often “cited as a chef who made Indian cuisine proud in the US and was making people internationally aware of [Indian] food.”
He authored two cookbooks,”One Spice, Two Spice: American Food, Indian Flavors” in 2006 and “Floyd Cardoz: Flavorwalla: Big Flavor. Bold Spices. A New Way to Cook the Foods You Love” in 2016, and was a four-time James Beard Award nominee.
“Floyd was one of those chefs who could cook circles around everyone and had such a deep understanding of flavor. He was early to things, and maybe too early, that people didn’t often credit him enough for his innovations,” says Khushbu Shah of Food & Wine Magazine.
New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells describes Cardoz as an exceptional talent who can unify French, Indian and American flavors. For chef-restaurateur David Chang, Cadoz was one of his first supporters and was “criminally under-appreciated” despite bringing new flavors and techniques to the US. Gramercy Tavern’s executive chef Michael Anthony said Cardoz was “a constant source of knowledge and inspiration.”
The Mumbai-raised chef recently returned to New Jersey after filming the Netflix series “Ugly Delicious” with actor Aziz Ansari in India. Just this month, he opened Bombay Sweet Shop, his third concept in India. He is survived by his wife, two children, mother and five siblings.
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