Anyone who met Chef Floyd Cardoz was instantly drawn to his exceptional knowledge about culinary techniques and the way his brown eyes twinkled when he spoke about what he was cooking. Cardoz, who passed away at the age of 59 last year due to COVID-19, was a guide, a friend, and a mentor to many young chefs.
On his birth anniversary, The Bombay Canteen (TBC) team is raising a toast to their favourite chef and former culinary director by recreating the last meal he cooked at the renowned restaurant Tabla in New York. What's more, the funds raised from Forever Floyd will support aspiring chef Jeeva George's culinary degree. Last year, Jeeva was selected for the first Chef Floyd Cardoz Scholarship at WelcomGroup Academy of Culinary Arts, Manipal to pursue his dreams of becoming a professional chef.
Tribute to his legacy
Sameer Seth, the founder and CEO of TBC, who met Cardoz when he was working with Danny Meyer's North End Grill and considered him family, recalls seeing the framed menu of the 6-course meal as they sat around the table at Chef Cardoz's home a few years ago. "We would always joke that he needs to make this meal for us. Unfortunately, that opportunity never came," he shares. Last year, the team at TBC could not do anything to commemorate his memory owing to the lockdown. However, it was the 6-course menu at Tabla that the team harked back to when they decided to mark the special occasion this year.
The core purpose of the event, says Seth, is to cherish and celebrate the late chef's memory because of what he meant to us at TBC. "He played a special role in guiding so many people throughout his life that if we can carry that thought forward, it would mean so much to all of us," he says. This is where the other purpose of the meal kicks in – funding an aspiring chef's dreams. Given that the chef grew up in Bandra, TBC has collaborated with the charming heritage village restaurant, The Lovefools, for the dinner setting. "None of us had the opportunity to dine with him at Tabla, but we knew what a seminal period it was in his life. Keeping that in mind, we thought, why not have fun with the menu; imagine if he was to cook this menu in Bandra today, what would it look like," he goes on to share.
What's on the menu?
The extensive 6-course dinner will begin with snacks such as Squash Pole, Pickled Pears, Pepper Cheese Threadfin Bream Poke, Red Rice Crackers, Basil Seeds House Made Pork Sausage, Ajwain Cracker, and Amrood Kasundi. The main course will consist of East Coast Barramundi with raw mango broth, Roasted Scampi, Chicken Liver Pate, Slow Cooked Pork Belly, Bannur Lamb Roast, and end with Love Fools Buttermilk Cake, a sweet ode to the chef by the folks at The Lovefools. "The original menu was true to the produce of New York City. That was the context of that menu, and that was the core of his philosophy. For us, it was more about having fun doing what we thought he would do and think the way he would think," says Seth.
Thinking about how they would interpret the original menu wasn't that tough a task for the TBC fellas. After all, Seth, Yash Bhanage, founder and COO, and Executive Chef Hussain Shahzad have spent years together with the chef and had a good sense of how he cooked and what he loved. "It boiled down to going back to our memories and our conversations with him. The menu in itself had some notes to it. We also spoke a lot to Barkha (Chef Cardoz's wife) and his former sous chef at Tabla. It was a bunch of conversations and us riffing off each other's thoughts and thinking this is what will make sense on the plate," he says, adding that the Chicken Liver Pate and the East Coast Barramundi is right up there for him, and he can't wait for people to taste these dishes.
Seth believes that staying true to the late chef's philosophies helped them navigate the menu. "Reading old menus is a window into that time. If you were to come across a dish or a recipe in an old book, you could garner the context, and the time it was cooked. The other thing Floyd always used to say was to make it contextual to today's time and age. Today we are in 2021, and we are cooking in Bandra. Our menu is contextual to that, not to 2010, New York City," he signs off.
The Forever Floyd dinner is at 7 pm, October 3, 2021, at The Lovefools in Bandra, Mumbai.
Price: Rs 4,000, including food and cocktails.