The judges for “Top Chef Masters” have gone home. The bizarre ingredients that the show foisted on the chef contestants for drama have been locked back in a pantry (or hopefully discarded). Floyd Cardoz can revel in winning $110,000 for a cause dear to his heart, and take a few moments to just be a dad in Verona. A dad who watches a son in a baseball playoff or shows up as a volunteer at a school event, like H.B. Whitehorne’s teacher luncheon.
At HBW early this week, he grilled up some Bombay street food, Chicken Frankies, with the help of his wife Barkha and Brian Feury, a 5th grader who was part of the winning UPRR LLC Yankees in the Verona Baseball & Softball League’s Major League Baseball World Series.
“Toss on that seasoning just like you’re throwing a ball,” Cardoz urged him.
If you’re not a reality TV fan, here’s a recap of what you missed over the last three months. Cardoz, who was for 12 years the executive chef of the Manhattan restaurant Tabla, competed on a Bravo channel show that pits accomplished chefs against each other to win money for charity. In some of the 10 episodes he finished at or near the top, often second to Mary Sue Milliken of the Border Grill. Along the way, we learned that Cardoz earned a masters in biochemistry before telling his father that he wanted to be a chef. He made it to the finals, only to almost be done in by rain and a Los Angeles traffic jam. And in the end, Cardoz did exactly what so many of the kids who have been in Verona’s rainy baseball playoffs have done–he reached deep inside and hit one out of the park.
“I was so happy for Floyd, and obviously, his charity” e-mailed Carmen Quagliata, another Verona dad who often juggles baseball and gourmet cooking (he’s executive chef of Union Square Cafe, which is part of the same company as Cardoz’ restaurant). “I felt bad about his rivalry with Mary Sue and shortfall on accumulated winnings for his charity. However, I knew Floyd would win once all the silly hurdles to creating entertaining challenges for (good?) TV were over. Once the only challenge left was to cook a great meal from the heart, I just knew he’d be Top Chef.” The final challenge centered on food memories, and for it Cardoz reinvented a common breakfast dish of his childhood and a fish meal he had once shared with his father, who died of cancer, as had his mother’s sister.
Cardoz’ winnings will go to the Young Scientist Cancer Research Fund at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He had learned about the Fund’s work through conversations with one of its scientists, Dr. Goutham Narla, who was something of a regular at Tabla. “When I thought I might be on the show,” says Cardoz, “I asked him, ‘how do you fund your lab?’ ”
In a few days, Cardoz will leave for Kamaishi, Japan, where he will cook for a benefit for tsunami victims. Then it’s back to New York, to prepare for the opening of his new restaurant, North End Grill, in November. Brian Feury, alas, will probably have to wait for graduation with the class of 2018 to be an official sous chef.
You can find many of Cardoz’ recipes from Top Chef Masters here.