Floyd Cardoz to shutter his NYC eatery in September
Celebrated chef and partner at two of Mumbai's popular restaurants to close diner in New York after a successful eight-year stint
It takes more desire than imagination to stand atop one of the embankments on Marine Drive - with the wind your hair, gazing far into the coruscating stretch that is the Queen's Necklace - and say, "This is a lot like New York." The American city of convergence has in fact, for long been a blueprint for this city, whether it's the town-to-suburbs is equal to Manhattan-to-Brooklyn argument, or the choice of nomenclature, where SoHo (or South Houston) comfortably fits into a desi pastiche to become SoBo.
Likewise, with food, too, the influence and buzzing culture of New York at large, and SoHo particularly, has served as an inspiration for long. Concepts like pop-ups, supper clubs and chef collaboration meals, all trickling down in a steady stream to Mumbai. It's apparent in the frequency with which so many chefs and restaurateurs here resort to the phrase, "When I was in New York," while explaining the inspiration behind more than one thing. It is then bound to both sting and surprise to know that chef and Bandra boy Floyd Cardoz's famed The Bombay Bread Bar in SoHo will alas be shutting down this September.
In 2015, when NYC's Paowalla, Cardoz joined hands with Sameer Seth and Yash Bhanage, to give the city The Bombay Canteen, a restaurant that celebrates local flavours and culinary heritages, Mumbai could hardly stop raving. Then, in 2017, that excitement doubled as the team got together, once again, for O Pedro, a Goan restaurant and bar that dips into kitchens situated far beyond Anjuna, meandering into the homes of Goan aunties and uncles. It went on to win the accolade of the Best New Restaurant at the mid-day Guide Restaurant Awards, 2018 and both the eateries helped create a direct link between the city of dreams and the city of stars.
It was exciting that a Bombay-bred person could be doing so well in a foreign land, and touching that they remembered (and considered) to come back, opening a channel of exchange by serving a slice of Bombay food in New York and consequently, creating a platform for city folk to acquaint themselves with New York's culinary aesthete.
The average Mumbaikar's exposure to The Bombay Bread Bar - launched as Paowalla in 2010, and re-launched as TBBB in 2018 - followed from the success of these two city diners, albeit it remained hinged on the screens of our phones and the Instagram app. It is evident in the number of wishes that inundated Cardoz's post as soon as he announced the news on his handle late on Monday night. "Friends & Family: I wanted to be the first to let you know the bittersweet news that we have made the decision to close The Bombay Bread Bar at the end of September. While TBBB is a vibrant restaurant that captures the Indian culture and spirit I am proud of, and that is still lacking in NYC more than 30 years after I started cooking here, the current restaurant environment in NYC is a challenging one," the chef wrote.
A leading food publication in the US subsequently reported that Cardoz was moving on to assume a new role with the Estiatorio Milos group, an American hospitality brand. “It’s been on the table since January since the minimum wage went up. I do understand you have to pay people a livable wage; that’s not what I’m disputing. It’s all the other things the state makes you do," he reportedly said, referring to the bill underway in the House of Representatives that seeks to raise the minimum wage to $15. The agenda has now become a prime focus for the 2020 presidential race in the country.
Cardoz will continue being associated with his Mumbai ventures and perhaps it's safe to say, many of us, including him, are waiting to find out what's next.
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