Floyd Cardoz: a pioneer, trailblazer and friend

Chef K.N. Vinod with Chef Floyd Cardoz, who died of coronavirus in New York.
Chef K.N. Vinod with Chef Floyd Cardoz, who died of coronavirus in New York on March 25.

By K. N. Vinod

Prominent Indian American Chef K.N. Vinod remembers his friend, Mumbai-born celebrity chef Floyd Cardoz, who died of coronavirus in New York Wednesday.

Chef Floyd Cardoz’s opening of Tabla in New York with renowned restaurateur Denny Meyers changed the landscape of modern Indian dining in the US. It gave a new dimension and a new respect to Indian cuisine.

Before Floyd came on the scene, Indian cuisine was relegated, mostly, to inexpensive buffets and butter chicken/naan.  His approach changed that – it showed the cuisine at it’s finest. Chefs and Indian restaurateurs in the US owe a lot of gratitude to Floyd for building the foundation of modern Indian cuisine.

With his eclectic background influencing dishes such as a Goan Spiced Maine Crab Cake, a far cry from the standard Tandoori Chicken and Pork Vindaloo of yore, he helped me and other chefs bring out our vision of refined Indian cuisine to the contemporary American public.

RELATED: Mumbai-born chef Floyd Cardoz dies in New York of COVID-19 (March 25, 2020)

I met Chef Cardoz for the first time when I visited Tabla a few years ago. Later we would meet at various events in New York, or he would call me or drop by when he was in Washington DC. He was a presence in every community, doing charity gatherings or events with the Smithsonian or the White House.

Subsequently, I have visited him at his restaurants North End Grill, Paowalla, and others, and each time he would extend all courtesies and more. The last time I went to Paowalla, I wanted to ask to speak to him only after our meal so he would not go out of his way to host us.

However, when he came on his rounds to meet his guests, he saw us sitting in the bar. He asked, “You thought you can sneak in and leave without meeting me?” Then after a few minutes, we saw plates after plates arriving – all compliments from Chef Floyd Cardoz!

ALSO READ: Indian American chef Floyd Cardoz to raise fund for suicide prevention (October 19, 2017)

That was the last time I saw Floyd. I remember we had a long conversation, and he was asking about my son’s restaurant and other things in my life. He had a unique ability to connect with people at a deep level.

He made an effort to meet diners, whether they were your average Joe or a movie star. His humility and gracious nature were his hallmark; Floyd always made people feel special. He will be missed by the culinary community – may his soul rest in peace!

(Chef K.N. Vinod is a well-known Indian American chef based in Washington DC. A friend of Floyd, he is the cofounder of critically acclaimed Indian restaurants Indique and Bombay Bistro. He is the culinary director of the contemporary fast casual restaurant Rasa and a member of the board of directors of the nonprofit DC Central Kitchen.)

Indian American chef K.N. Vinod is marking International Sous-Vide Day with Kerala Shepherd’s Pie

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