Top Chef Masters winner Floyd Cardoz dies of coronavirus at 59
Chef Floyd Cardoz died on Wednesday at Mountainside Medical Centre in New Jersey as a result of complications from coronavirus, a spokesperson for his Hunger Inc. Hospitality Group confirms to PEOPLE. He was 59.
The Top Chef Masters winner was first admitted to the hospital with a fever last Wednesday, and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.
At the time, he posted an update on his Instagram page, saying he sought medical help as a “precautionary measure.”
“Sincere apologies everyone. I am sorry for causing undue panic around my earlier post. I was feeling feverish and hence as a precautionary measure, admitted myself into hospital in New York,” he wrote, adding he “was hugely anxious about my state of health.”
Cardoz was born in Bombay, India, and moved to New York City to work in restaurant kitchens. In 1997, he partnered with famed restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group to open the contemporary Indian restaurant Tabla, which quickly became an iconic Manhattan establishment, earning three stars from the New York Times. He subsequently opened North End Grill, Paowalla and Bombay Bread Bar in the city. Most recently, he opened The Bombay Canteen and Bombay Sweet Shop in Mumbai, India.
“Good food is not only about how it looks on the plate,” he told PEOPLE in 2015 of his passion for the hospitality industry. “It’s about how good it makes the person eating it feel.”
Meyer posted a message on Twitter Wednesday morning. “Love you so much @floydcardoz,” he wrote.
Cardoz also competed on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters season three in 2011, taking home the top prize.
“Bravo and the Top Chef family are deeply saddened by the passing of Chef Floyd Cardoz. Floyd was a talented chef who competed and won Top Chef Masters,” a representative for the network tells PEOPLE in a statement. “He was thoughtful, kind and his smile illuminated a room. He was an inspiration to chefs around the world and we offer our deepest sympathy to his family and friends.”
Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi wrote a touching tribute on Instagram. “Floyd made us all so proud. Nobody who lived in NY in the early aughts could forget how delicious and packed Tabla always was. He had an impish smile, an innate need to make those around him happy, and a delicious touch,” she said. “This is a huge loss, not only for the professional food world, but for the Indians everywhere.”
Fellow contestant Hugh Acheson posted a tribute to his friend and former competitor on Twitter. “Floyd. You were a gem. You were an amazing human and chef,” he wrote. “You were a father and husband full of love and grace. I am so sorry. I love you. Rest in Peace my friend.”
“Devastating news about Chef Floyd Cardoz,” wrote fellow New York City chef and Food Network star Alex Guarnaschelli. “I can’t process it. A true gentleman in every sense and a great credit to the chef community. He will be sorely missed.”
New York Times food critic Pete Wells wrote that Cardoz was “an exceptional talent, a chef equally at home with undiluted Indian flavors as he was with the delicious union of French, Indian and American food, a personal idiom that he invented.”
Cardoz is survived by his mother Beryl, his wife and business partner, Barkha, whom he met at hospitality school in India, and their two sons, Peter, 27, and Justin, 22.
Before testing positive for coronavirus, Cardoz had previously traveled from Mumbai to New York City by way of Frankfurt on March 8.
As of Wednesday morning, March 25, there are at least 53,852 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States and 728 deaths.
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