Celebrity chef Floyd Cardoz of Bombay Canteen fame dies in U.S. of COVID-19 complications

Published : March 26, 2020 17:36 IST

Chef Floyd Cardoz. Here, at Tabla, the restaurant in New York that he co-owned with Danny Meyer. Photo: FRED R. CONRAD/NYT

The Mumbai-born celebrity chef Floyd Cardoz succumbed to the COVID-19 infection on March 25. The 59-year-old Cardoz, who lived in New York City, died about a week after testing positive for SARS-CoV-2. The news of his death sent shock waves through Mumbai's well-heeled. Cardoz had been in the city in early March for the opening of his third venture, The Bombay Sweet Shop. There had been a big opening party for the new restaurant and many had been in contact with the chef.

Cardoz had left Mumbai on March 8. According to reports, he put an instagram post that on reaching New York had had not been feeling well and was being tested for COVID-19. Surprisingly, the post was taken down and he later tweeted saying he was in hospital as a precautionary measure and apologised for causing “undue panic”. Reports quoted Cardoz as saying that he contracted the virus after reaching New York. However, there is no way of verifying this.

A close friend of Cardoz’s said to Frontline that his death due to the virus really brought home the fact that the coronavirus was a killer and nobody would be spared. “If the rich are taking this lightly, this is a warning. Sadly, it had to take Cardoz. He was a good person, a generous employer, a visionary and above all a magician.”

In 2015, Cardoz, along with two partners, opened the now-iconic The Bombay Canteen in Mumbai’s Lower Parel area. A charming place that brought Mumbai’s melting-pot of cultures under one roof, TBC, as it is popularly known, won India’s top restaurant award (Conde Nast Traveller) in 2019, thereby proving it is not always five star and highly priced food that win accolades. Cardoz’s ideology of making gourmet food at affordable prices was set in stone at TBC and this made it an exceptionally interesting place to dine as the diversity of people at any point was perhaps one of its highlights. A few years later the TBC team led by Cardoz opened O Pedro, a Goan restaurant located in the Bandra Kurla Complex, another runaway success.

Raised in Mumbai, Cardoz’s culinary journey began after he graduated from the Institute of Hotel Management in Dadar, Mumbai. He went on to train at the Les Roches culinary school in Switzerland and finally ended up in New York City, where he opened the restaurant Tabla. It was the first modern Indian cuisine eatery the city had seen. Cardoz managed to successfully introduced Indian food from different parts of the country, particularly from South India, therefore showing the world there was more to Indian food than chicken tikka masala.

Tabla, unfortunately shut shop in 2010 but not without earning multiple accolades and critical acclaim. Cardoz continued his mission of show-casing Indian cuisine via creative methods. He was the owner of Paowala, which later became the Bombay Bread Bar, “a restaurant that liberated Indian cuisine from Western sensibilities, and had Floyd's signature non-fussy, non-intimidating stamp,” said a food critic. He also partnered with several restaurateurs in New York City to run successful and popular eateries.

In an official statement, Hunger Inc, the company that runs the restaurants, said in a statement: “It is with deep sorrow that we inform you of the passing away of Chef Floyd Cardoz, Co-founder Hunger Inc. Hospitality, on March 25, 2020, in New Jersey, USA.” He is survived by his mother Beryl, wife Barkha, and sons Justin and Peter.