NEW YORK • Floyd Cardoz, an international restaurateur and the first chef to bring the sweep and balance of his native Indian cooking to fine dining in the United States, died on Tuesday at Mountainside Hospital in Montclair, New Jersey. He was 59.
The cause was the coronavirus, his family said.
Cardoz was the first chef born and raised in India to lead an influential New York City kitchen, at Tabla, which he and restaurateur Danny Meyer opened in the Flatiron district of Manhattan in 1998.
Soon after, restaurant critic Ruth Reichl of The New York Times gave Cardoz’s cooking a rapturous review.
“Yes, I thought. This is what I have been waiting for,” she wrote. “This is American food, viewed through a kaleidoscope of Indian spices.”
Before opening Tabla, Cardoz cooked at the luxurious New York restaurant Lespinasse, where he rose from line cook to executive sous chef under Swiss chef Gray Kunz, who died of a stroke on March 5.
Kunz, like many chefs who participated in the revolution in French cooking known as nouvelle cuisine, was already occasionally deploying Asian ingredients such as ginger, cardamom and star anise, but at Tabla, Cardoz summoned a fully Indian-American modern cuisine with dishes such as halibut in watermelon curry and spice-braised oxtail with tapioca.
Floyd Mark Cardoz was born in Mumbai, India, on Oct 2, 1960, and grew up there. He pursued a culinary career at a time when such a course was unusual in India for a young professional, especially one who had studied biochemistry.
After winning the culinary competition television show Top Chef Masters (2009 to 2013) in 2011 with a variation on upma, a South Indian breakfast staple, Cardoz became a celebrity son of India.
In Mumbai, he opened the Bombay Canteen and O Pedro, a restaurant influenced by his family’s Portuguese roots in Goa.
Earlier this month, he wrote on Instagram that he had become ill soon after returning home from Mumbai. He is survived by his wife; his sons, Peter and Justin; his mother, Beryl Cardoz; and five siblings.
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