The COVID-19 virus that is impacted the nation has taken the life of one of the restaurant industry’s most beloved chefs. Chef Floyd Cardoz died yesterday at the age of 59 at Mountainside Medical Centre in New Jersey as a result of complications from coronavirus.
The Top Chef Masters winner was first admitted to the hospital with a fever a week earlier after a trip to Mumbai and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. At the time, Cardoz posted an update on his Instagram page, saying he sought medical help as a “precautionary measure.”
“Sincere apologies everyone. I am sorry for causing undue panic around my earlier post. I was feeling feverish and hence as a precautionary measure, admitted myself into hospital in New York,” he wrote, adding he “was hugely anxious about my state of health.”
Cardoz was born in Bombay, India, and moved to New York City to work in restaurant kitchens. In 1997, he partnered with famed restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group to open the contemporary Indian restaurant Tabla, which quickly became an iconic Manhattan establishment, earning three stars from the New York Times. He subsequently opened North End Grill, Paowalla and Bombay Bread Bar in the city. Most recently, he opened The Bombay Canteen and Bombay Sweet Shop in Mumbai, India.
Cardoz also burst onto the scene when he competed on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters season three in 2011, taking home the top prize. “Bravo and the Top Chef family are deeply saddened by the passing of Chef Floyd Cardoz. Floyd was a talented chef who competed and won Top Chef Masters,” noted Francis Berwick, President of NBCUniversal, the parent company of Bravo. “He was thoughtful, kind and his smile illuminated a room. He was an inspiration to chefs around the world and we offer our deepest sympathy to his family and friends.”
Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi wrote a touching tribute on Instagram. “Floyd made us all so proud. Nobody who lived in NY in the early aughts could forget how delicious and packed Tabla always was. He had an impish smile, an innate need to make those around him happy, and a delicious touch,” she said. “This is a huge loss, not only for the professional food world, but for the Indians everywhere.”
Fellow contestant Hugh Acheson posted a tribute to his friend and former competitor on Twitter. “Floyd. You were a gem. You were an amazing human and chef,” he wrote. “You were a father and husband full of love and grace. I am so sorry. I love you. Rest in Peace my friend.”
New York Times food critic Pete Wells wrote that Cardoz was “an exceptional talent, a chef equally at home with undiluted Indian flavors as he was with the delicious union of French, Indian and American food, a personal idiom that he invented.”
Among Cardoz’s most recent ventures was an Indian food catering business that he created with New York’s City’s award-winning Neuman’s Kitchen.
The celebrity chef offered menus inspired by his native India as well as his experience as head chef at Tabla and North End Grill. The international menus created exclusively for Neuman’s Kitchen will featured such creative fusion plates including Black Pepper Shrimp with wild watercress and watermelon salad as well as Shishito Pepper Pakoras and included a full range of catered items from appetizers, to entrees and desserts as well as options for a live chef station with Cardoz himself.
“I believe that good food and good cooking are not only about how good something looks or tastes, it’s also about how good you feel while cooking for someone you love, or eating something that has been lovingly prepared for you,” Cardoz told TFS when he launched the catering venture. “The entire process of cooking is about expressing your soul. If your food does not have soul, it will not give joy to those eating it. And without soul, we are nothing.
Cardoz is survived by his mother Beryl, his wife and business partner, Barkha, whom he met at hospitality school in India, and their two sons, Peter, 27, and Justin, 22.