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Mumbai-born’s humble upma wins $100,000

June 24
02:27 2011

Floyd Cardoz and the winning dish

NEW YORK: Celebrity New York chef of Indian origin Floyd Cardoz walked away with $100,000 in prize money after winning the popular ‘Top Chef Masters’ contest June 16, on Bravo TV.

And the dish that brought him sweet success was the quintessential Indian savory: Upma.

The former Executive Chef/Partner of Tabla in New York City and soon-to-be Executive Chef/Partner of a new Danny Meyer restaurant North End Grill clinched the Top Chef Masters title wowing the judges with, among other dishes, a deceptively simple upma, the South Indian breakfast dish made of semolina (with the chef’s twist adding mushrooms).

Cardoz’s prize money as well as an additional $10,000 he won in an earlier challenge will go toward the Young Scientist Cancer Research Fund in memory of his father, who died of cancer. His father, apparently, didn’t want the Mumbai-born Cardoz to be a chef – he trained to be a biochemist but ultimately found his calling was in the kitchen.

“I didn’t pick myself to win,” he said in his exit interview on the show. “I’m shocked. Winning means a lot to me and my family because my family has always sacrificed our family life for me to do what I do.”

Cardoz beat Mary Sue Milliken of Los Angeles’ Border Grill and Traci Des Jardins of San Francisco’s Jardiniere.

Cardoz was the executive chef of Tabla, a groundbreaking restaurant serving Indian food. Despite being touted as one of New York’s best, Tabla could not sustain itself and closed last year, after being in business for 12 years.

Cardoz began his career in Mumbai, where he attended culinary school and interned at Taj Mahal Intercontinental Hotel. He then went to Switzerland to study hotel management after which he moved to New York where he worked under Chef Gray Kunz of the venerable Lespinasse. During his seven years at the world-renowned restaurant, he rose from Chef de Partie to Executive Sous Chef.

In 2006, Cardoz wrote his first cookbook, ‘One Spice, Two Spice’. In 2009, he launched a line of meals for online grocer Fresh Direct. He is also the consulting chef for El Verano Taqueria located at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets.

Outside his kitchens, Cardoz also won the ‘Humanitarian Award of the Year Award’ from Share Our Strength in 2007.

India Post News Service

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