The late Floyd Cardoz, master chef and international restauranter, brought different styles of Indian cooking to the global mainstream, while opening multiple successful restaurants and ventures in New York as No ACs in 40 Degree Heat: A Peek Inside Gujarat’s Eco-Friendly ‘Cool House Pune Scientists Find Solutions in Nature to Help Farmers Fight Crop Loss & Climate Change Michelin Star Chefs Curate Farm-to-Table Experience on an Ancestral Farm in Bengaluru
On 25 March 2020, we lost the ‘godfather of modern Indian cuisine’ to COVID-19. Floyd Cardoz, a son of Mumbai, was a master chef and international restaurateur who seamlessly blended different cultures through his food, anchored in the magic of India’s regional cuisines. Tabla, the first restaurant he set up in collaboration with restaurateur Danny Meyer in the Flatiron district of Manhattan, New York, in 1998, was according to food critic Vir Sanghvi, “the first Indian restaurant in America to get food critics to sit up and take Indian food seriously”.
Ruth Reichl, a food critic with The New York Times, said this in a February 1999 review. “For me, it was love at first bite. When I tasted seared foie gras with a pear, black pepper and anise compote, I swooned. Foie gras is always magical, but I was experiencing something new, as spice and sweetness went somersaulting through my mouth,” she wrote.
“Chills went down my back as I tried port-glazed sweetbreads, little morsels teased by the cool juiciness of pomegranate seeds and the crunch of lacy lotus roots. Each bite of spiced Maine crab cakes, wrapped in papadums, topped with avocado and glazed with tamarind, was a wonderful surprise. Yes, I thought. This is what I have been waiting for,” she added.
Dishes ranging from mustard fettuccine with braised veal, baby spinach, and tomato kasundi to duck-and-potato samosa and tandoori quail with black-pepper glaze exhibited a certain refinement associated with fine dining without ever shedding its regional Indian character.