Chef Floyd Cardoz, man behind ‘Tabla’ and ‘The Bombay Canteen’, dies of Covid-19 in New York
Noted Indian-origin chef and restaurateur Floyd Cardoz passed away in New York Wednesday due to coronavirus, having tested positive a week ago.
Famous for restaurants like The Bombay Canteen and O Pedro in Mumbai and Tabla and Bombay Bread Bar in New York, Cardoz had visited Mumbai recently, for The Bombay Canteen’s fifth-anniversary celebration as well as to open the new Bombay Sweet Shop. He flew back to New York via Frankfurt on 8 March and in an Instagram post on 18 March, said he had admitted himself into a New York hospital because he was feeling feverish.
Hunger Inc., the company that runs these restaurants, had released a statement confirming that Cardoz, who grew up in Mumbai, had tested positive.
“As a precautionary measure, we have informed the health department in Mumbai about the same. We are also reaching out personally to people who have interacted with him during his visit to India, so they can take necessary medical advice should they indicated any symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) and or (put themselves in) self-quarantine,” it had said.
‘Genius’ who made even ‘upma taste Good’
Cardoz is credited for pioneering a new wave of Indian food in the US, beyond the cliched curries. He made headlines the late 1990s when he opened Tabla, a modern Indian fine-dining restaurant that changed New York’s restaurant scene and remained a favorite until it closed in 2010. Senior journalist and food critic Vir Sanghvi recalled his experience of eating at the restaurant: “Eating at Tabla was a revelation for me. Floyd did not do Frenchified presentations like the Indian restaurants in London. He let his spices speak and the flavors shone through.”
The Goan chef raised in Mumbai’s Bandra returned to home turf professionally and made his mark in 2015 with The Bombay Canteen in Lower Parel, Mumbai. The popular restaurant reimagines classic Indian favorites and champions local, seasonal produce, in dishes like pulled pork thepla tacos and chilled seafood bhel.
In 2017, the team opened O Pedro, a Goan restaurant, in the business district of BKC (Bandra-Kurla Complex). Their latest venture, The Bombay Sweet Shop, aims to reinvent Indian mithai with influences from across the country.
Mihir Sharma, fellow at Observer Research Foundation, once wrote of Cardoz that he was someone who “takes the food of this country, its spices mixtures and methods of cooking, and marries them, apparently effortlessly, with French or East Asian traditions”.
Sharma also described Cardoz as a “genius” who could make “even upma taste good” – his version of upma, with mushrooms, coconut milk, and chicken stock, was what won him the top spot in Season 3 of Top Chef Masters, the popular cooking show.
His versatility and talent is something the restaurant world will miss. As Sanghvi said, “And great chefs like Floyd can excel at anything they do: from French food at Lespinasse to mithai at the Bombay Sweet Shop”.