The chef who made Indian regional food hep

Updated: Mar 26, 2020, 07:54 IST | | Mumbai

Coronavirus claims top city chef and restaurateur Flyod Cardoz in New Jersey

Floyd Cardoz
Floyd Cardoz

Rahul AkerkarI first met Floyd with Chef Michael Romano when they came to Bangalore in 1996 (and later in Bombay) during their R&D trip for their upcoming restaurant Tabla, in New York. They spent some time with us, at the time when we were running Kuteeram, PromitaBedi's 10-room boutique property opposite Nrityagram. Malini and I took them around to several home cooks and restaurants in Bangalore and Bombay as they went about their R&D.

I recall them loving the food at Karavalli and their interaction with Chef Sriram at the Taj Gateway. Many years later, I remember talking to him about his win on the TV show, Top Chef where he made the humble upma in the final. We had a good laugh over that.

I love what Floyd did for modernizing Indian food, and making it understandable and relevant to the West with his first restaurant Tabla. Over the years, we became good friends and developed what I believe was a wonderful professional respect for one another as chefs. We'd meet whenever our paths crossed across the great divide between the US and India. I was working on Indigo and he was charting the course of Indian cuisine in the US.

I believe he was instrumental in beginning the redefinition of Indian food in the US which was fairly disastrous and clichéd until Tabla came around. He modernised it with western eating sensibilities and over the years, helped create a diner that came to understood and love Indian food. As he grew from Tabla he became more of a purist in his approach to Indian food and really started focussing on his family's Goan cuisine, in helping take that global.

We have much to thank Floyd for; as a partner and driver of The Bombay Canteen and O Pedro, along with Chef Thomas Zacharias and Chef Hussain Shahzad, he helped redefined Indian food locally in Bombay too. He, along with those chefs, their teams and Yash Bhanage and Sameer Seth made eating regional Indian food enjoyable and very hep.

His generosity of spirit and willingness to nurture people is something I will always remember him for. I will miss him terribly.

As told to Phorum Dalal

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