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In Memoriam: Chef Floyd Cardoz

In Memoriam: Chef Floyd Cardoz
Bombay Sweet Shop, which opened in Byculla in March, reimagines Indian sweets,

Bidding adieu to an Indian Chef who, in the words of David Chang, was ‘beloved’ but ‘Criminally underappreciated’ in the western culinary sphere

Rupali Dean
May 23 , 2020
06 Min Read

Chef Floyd Cardoz documented his last few days on Instagram, posting a selfie at a hospital where he was being treated for a fever. On March 25, his sudden death shook the culinary industry around the world. COVID-19 had taken yet another victim, this time a prominent name in the realm of food and hospitality. As tributes poured in from fans and competitors alike, the world rightly echoed, “gone too soon.” 

Floyd’s legacy was of bringing people together, and altruism his natural stance. Just as in life, he donated $1,10,000 to the Young Scientist Cancer Research Fund at New York’s Mt Sinai School of Medicine, in death, he left behind a fraternity that will learn from his extraordinary miscellany of values, and how much we are all important in this fight together. 

Chef Floyd Cardoz

Floyd was the Culinary Director and Partner at Bombay Sweet Shop, O Pedro and The Bombay Canteen. In 1998, he partnered with union Square hospitality Group’s Danny Meyer to open Tabla, a New York legend for ‘new Indian cuisine’. This cherished affiliation would continue for 17 years. With Chef Floyd at its helm, Tabla received several honours, including a 3-star review from The New York Times. After 12 fruitful years of easing American palates and minds into the world of spice, Tabla bolted its doors in December 2010. 

“I have known Floyd for many years, and I have had many meals at both Tabla and Bombay Bread Bar,” shared celebrity chef Vicky Ratnani. “I loved him as both a person and a chef because of his positive attitude towards everything. I bumped into him often in Mumbai, too. I remem- ber a sandwich shop called Num Pang, in New York, serving a panini with pepper chicken on their menu in his honour.” 

Floyd was larger than life. A gifted chef and four-time James Beard Award nominee, he was also the recipient of the first-ever ‘humanitarian of the Year Award’ from Food TV. “For someone who has had the opportunity to inter- act with Chef Floyd only twice, he did leave an everlasting impact,” said Jerry Thomas, culinary head for restaurants, Gourmet Investments. “he was charming, empathetic and had a wicked sense of humour. Always so encouraging and motivating. his contribution to Indian food will be etched in our minds and his legacy will live on forever.” 

A celebrated Indian-American chef and winner of Top Chef Masters, Floyd’s key stimulus across his numerous undertakings was to build and inspire a sustainable food culture. “I am deeply saddened by the loss of ardent Chef Floyd, who had such remarkable food and beverage outposts in the uSA, and in Mumbai,” said Sandeep Pande, execu- tive Chef at JW Marriott, New Delhi. “To me, personally, his sustainable practices in F&B operations and the way he used local ingredients, cuisine techniques and food will be an unforgettable learning. I express my deepest and most sincere condolences to the family for the loss.” 

Floyd graduated from the Indian Institute of hotel Management, in Mumbai, and trained in the kitchens of the Taj Mahal hotel and The Oberoi. “Chef Floyd was the champion of so many things for me: the original Paowala, a champion of all things Goan,” shared Rahul Gomes, Chef-Partner, Passcode hospitality. “his picture dotted our kitchen walls and we all dreamt of meeting him someday. Nine years later, when I found myself in New York, I reached out to him and immediately heard back. unfortunately, circumstances didn’t allow it then, but I fondly remember a chance meeting a couple of months later in Mumbai. I last met him at an award party, as we sipped some malt late into the night and celebrated. he stood out in the room that day. An icon, gone too soon.” 

The Bombay Bread Bar in Soho, NYC (closed last year)

The news of Floyd’s death was met with profound sadness among Indian chefs internationally, as well. “I never met him in person, but we did exchange thoughts on social media a few times and I instantly took a liking to him,” said Garima Arora, Chef-Partner of the Michelin-starred Gaa in Bangkok. “All I can say is that I missed meeting a personal food hero. he was one of the firsts to see the real potential of undiluted Indian flavours and techniques on a global culinary level.” In 2008, Floyd propelled a line of useful ‘4-Minute Meals’ and ‘Ready to Cook’ antipasti in association with Fresh Direct. It was the same year that he became the Culinary Director and Creator of union Square hospitality Group’s el Verano Taquería, which offered authentic Mexican tacos and salsas at the New York Met’s Citi Field and Washington’s Nationals Park. Floyd frequently worked with Share our Strength, City harvest, C-CAP (Careers through Culinary Arts Program) and the Young Scientist Foundation. Chefs felt connected to his compassionate spirit and magical way with the cuisine. “A huge loss, and he will always remain the genesis of creativity,” said celebrity chef Kunal Kapur. “I missed the chance to cook with him, but his work will always inspire me and many others.” 

Floyd inspired numerous chefs to explore cultures and cities through their food. “Devastating news, what to say, a proud flag-bearer of India in the world is lost, a legend of the culinary world who will always be remembered for his path- breaking concepts and leaving behind a legacy of successful restaurants, rest in peace Chef,” added Chef Sabyasachi Gorai of Lavaash By Saby. 

“...I have been following him for the past few years and if you read Danny Meyer’s post, you would understand that the culinary world has lost another hero,” said Tanveer Kwatra, executive Assistant Manager at Andaz Delhi. “he revolutionised Indian cuisine two decades ago and left a huge legacy behind. he has been an inspiration to a lot of us and will continue to remain with us forever.” 

No matter the hotel, or the chef, everyone looked at Floyd with the kind of reverence that’s reserved for only the best. “he made the world see Indian cuisine in a different way. It’s sad, but the time had come for his magic to be tasted by the gods in the heavens above,” said Akshay Bhardwaj, executive Chef at the ITC Maurya in New Delhi. 

And Sahil Mehta, Chef Consultant, summed it up rather beautifully, calling Floyd “an angel in a chef ’s hat, cooking for the lord above, blessing the angels above in heaven with his charismatic presence and art.” 

If there’s one thing that comes out from this, it’s simple. The man may no longer be with us, but his legacy will live on forever. 

Chef Cardoz is survived by his mother Beryl, wife Barkha and sons Justin and Peter. 

 


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