Floyd Cardoz is the Executive Chef of Tabla (www.tablany.com
a groundbreaking New York restaurant serving New Indian
cuisine cooked with the sensual flavours and spices of his
native Goa. Floyd opened Tabla in 1998 with famed restaurateur
Danny Meyer and chef Michael Romano of Union Square Cafe.
For years this Goan had searched for an original way to
showcase the aromatic flavours of his homeland. Now, at
the helm of Tabla, Floyd seasons Western culinary traditions
with Indian spices and soul in the restaurant’s main
dining room, and also cooks home-style Indian cuisine in
the restaurant’s Bread Bar.
Floyd’s preparation for Tabla has
been extensive and intense. After graduating in Science
at Mumbai's St. Xavier's College, he was determined to become
an accomplished chef and this is perhaps best exemplified
by the 1984 summer internship he did during culinary school
in Bombay. The moment he entered the kitchen of the Taj
Mahal Intercontinental Hotel, he was handed a 100 kilo bag
of onions to peel. Despite the daunting introduction to
food service, Floyd remained a loyal apprentice to the famed
hotel throughout school. Working six days a week from 8
a.m.-11 p.m. (at 150 rupees, or $3.00, a month), Floyd became
adept in all areas of the kitchen.
To broaden his familiarity with classic
culinary technique, Floyd moved to Switzerland. His days
were spent at Les Roches, a Hotel Management Culinary School
in Bluche where he received his diploma in Hotel Restaurant
Management and Administration. His evenings were continuously
filled with cooking engagements in Italian, French and Indian
Ironically, it was his European training
that instilled in Floyd a desire to begin experimenting
with traditional Indian cuisines. The young visionary wanted
to take European and American foods to new heights by enhancing
these popular cuisines with Indian spices. Floyd returned
to India, excited to unfold his plans, but found Indian
restaurants resistant to many forward-thinking ideas. So
Floyd moved to New York, where adventures in gastronomic
matters were more celebrated.
After cooking for three years in America’s
food hub, Floyd met a chef who shared his passion for infusing
top-notch ingredients with exotic flavours. Gray Kunz, chef
of New York’s venerable Lespinasse and the man Floyd
credits as his mentor, welcomed the newcomer’s ideas.
Kunz embraced the use of Indian spices in his own kitchen,
where he had already pioneered a taste for Asian-influenced
French foods. Floyd rose from Chef de Partie to Executive
Sous Chef during his five years at the world-famous restaurant.
“When I arrived at Lespinasse, there were only four
Indian spices in the cabinet,” he recalls. “When
I left, we had incorporated over twenty-five.”
As Floyd explains, mastering Indian flavours
is no small feat. There are literally hundreds of derivatives
of Indian cuisine, due to the many states, religions and
cultures that make up the Indian sub-continent. At Tabla,
Floyd has the opportunity to cook the many cuisines found
in the various regions throughout India.
With Floyd at the helm, Tabla has received
many accolades from the media including The New York Times
– Three stars, Bon Appetit “Our Favorite Places:
Asian,” Gourmet – “Personal Favorite”
and Reader’s Choice, Best Newcomer (NY), Time Out
New York – Best Indian (1999-2002), Forbes Magazine
(Three stars), and New York Daily News – Four stars.
In addition, Bon Appetit named Floyd as one of “The
Innovators” in its 2003 Annual Restaurant Edition.
Floyd uses much of his free time exploring
new dishes from India. But when he’s not experimenting,
he can be found spending time with his wife, Barkha, and
two sons, Peter and Justin. Floyd traces his Goan roots