Floyd Cardoz Was My Competition. But He Was Also My Muse.

Chefs

He changed my life and blazed a trail that I and so many other Indian chefs have followed. The acceptance and legitimacy we all craved and finally gained was because of him.

Chefs

3/26/2020

On March 25, 2020, chef Floyd Cardoz passed away after testing positive for COVID-19. Here chef Meherwan Irani shares Cardoz’s influence on him and how he changed his perception of what a chef could be.

He changed my life and blazed a trail that I and so many other Indian chefs have followed. The acceptance and legitimacy we all craved and finally gained was because of him.

Email On March 25, 2020, chef Floyd Cardoz passed away after testing positive for COVID-19. He was 59. Chefs, restaurateurs, editors, writers, and restaurant critics took to social media to mourn his passing and remember his accomplishments as a groundbreaking chef and industry leader. Here chef Meherwan Irani, founder of Chai Pani Restaurant Group, shares Cardoz’s influence on him, how he changed his perception of what a chef could be, and inspired him to continue pushing the boundaries. I first heard about Floyd Cardoz in the summer of 2009, just as my wife, Molly, and I were opening our own restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina. We were tentatively calling it Chai Pani . I imagined it would be a small, cozy chaat house serving chai, samosas, and the kind of street food I grew up with in India. Molly purchased every book about restaurant operations she could lay her hands on, including Danny Meyer’s now seminal book, Setting the Table . One day as she was reading through it, she called me over excitedly and asked, “Have you heard of this guy?” She pointed to a name: Floyd Cardoz. “He’s an Indian chef in New York, and he opened an Indian restaurant with Danny Meyer called Tabla,” she continued. I read the five sentences or so Meyer devoted to describing Floyd, and my world suddenly tilted. Up until that moment I never imagined that the seemingly rarefied culinary world—with its celebrity chefs, glossy magazines, TV shows, and black-tie award ceremonies—would ever take an Indian chef seriously. The ones held up as the greats were almost always white and male. But here was a chef who just upended my own biases. Floyd was classically trained, worked at some of the most revered temples of New York gastronomy like Lespinasse, and gained acclaim and respect not just as an Indian chef but a real-deal chef on par with anyone else in the field. New York Times critic Ruth Reichl gushed about this guy when he debuted Tabla. Then there was me. I had no culinary background, no one knew who I was, and I was opening a hole-in-the-wall, slinging Indian street food and chai in a small mountain town in western North Carolina, a long way from where everything important in food was happening. Yet, reading about Floyd, I suddenly wanted what he had: legitimacy and acceptance. Without knowing it, Floyd placed a chip on my shoulder that I carried around for the next 10 years. That chip pushed me hard. It changed how I cooked, plated, and ran my kitchen once I opened Chai Pani. Yes, I was cooking Indian street food and home-style meals, but I became obsessed with technique, with refinement, with taking apart dishes and making them better than any I ever tasted in India. If Floyd was known for bringing Indian flavors and spices to classical French and modern American cuisine, then I was doing the opposite: bringing classical and modern technique to Indian street food without changing the essential nature and casualness of it. I devoured books on technique and watched YouTube videos by everyone from Marco Pierre White to Heston Blumenthal after dinner service and late into the night. Floyd was my competition. But he was also my muse, my ideal of what an Indian chef could accomplish. When he won Top Chef Masters, I swelled with pride and also angst; the bar I set for myself was now raised even higher. But as the years went by and I came into my own, the chip started to erode. I found my voice and a sense of individual purpose: to play my part in changing the narrative of the American South from one of exclusion and racism to one of inclusion and diversity. I found my community of like-minded chefs and restaurateurs all working to add their stories to the anthology of Southern cuisine and culture. I opened more restaurants throughout the South, launched a Read more: Bon Appétit

meherwani ♥️

'Top Chef Masters' Star Floyd Cardoz Dead at 59 Due to CoronavirusFloyd Cardoz succumbed to an infection he contracted after being diagnosed with COVID-19. Autopsy please shelbywellard

Floyd Cardoz, 'Top Chef Masters' winner, dies at 59 from coronavirus complicationsFloyd Cardoz tested positive for COVID-19 on March 18.

'Top Chef Masters' winner Floyd Cardoz dies after coronavirus diagnosisWorld renowned chef Floyd Cardoz died Wednesday in New Jersey at age 59. Cardoz had tested positive for coronavirus. magi 😔 All countries should be united in this regard... And try to solve this universal problems as soon as possible Damn

‘Top Chef Masters’ Winner Floyd Cardoz Dies From Coronavirus Complications at 59Floyd Cardoz, the winner of Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters” Season 3, died on Wednesday after testing positive for coronavirus, a spokesperson for his Hunger Inc. Hospitality confirmed… なんと 抵抗力のない料理で、ご冥福あれ RIP So sad.

Floyd Cardoz, 'Top Chef Masters' Star, Dead at 59 From CoronavirusThe famed chef died on Wednesday after testing positive for COVID-19. 💗🙏👨‍🍳

Top Chef Masters Winner Floyd Cardoz Dead at 59Top Chef Masters winner Floyd Cardoz has died at 59 after testing positive for Coronavirus. Look back at his incredible career in and out of the kitchen. Oh my. RIP. DC_the3rd RIP



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