Top Chef Masters winner Floyd Cardoz added his name to the celebrity chef board in The Daily Meal’s test kitchen on Wednesday, Aug. 7, where he and his staff from the North End Grill in New York City held an entertaining demonstration for more than 40 guests.
Upon arrival, guests couldn’t help but notice a large pile of freshly chopped wood positioned as a strange centerpiece on the chef’s table. He explained that the wood represented the grilling techniques, wood, and charcoal, used at North End Grill — symbolizing an "earthy flavor" as the basis for all of its cooking.
Following other notable chefs like David Burke, Joey Campanaro, and Masaharu Morimoto who have recently made their mark on The Daily Meal’s celebrity chef series, Cardoz gave his guests the scoop on how to prepare some mouthwatering seafood dishes, like a banana leaf-wrapped skate and black pepper shrimp placed on a cube of watermelon.
"Using the banana leaf gives the fish an incredible and different smoky flavor," Cardoz said.
The guests couldn’t agree more, claiming they loved the way the fish seemed to just fall right off the bone and that they were able to taste the spices so prominently.
Cardoz expressed his love for spices as well, particularly when it comes to using chile peppers as a key ingredient for flavoring. He explained his own personal methods for spice preparation, from toasting to freshly grinding. He even admitted to having an extra coffee grinder at home specifically used just for spices.
"This is awesome," guest Kirshna Patel said with regards to the event. "The food is good, the atmosphere’s good, and I feel like we’re just in someone’s kitchen!"
Cardoz not only took the opportunity to educate his guests about how to prepare these unique dishes, but shared the beliefs and morals that have inspired him to develop his craft and ultimately lead him to mastery.
He expressed the importance of always being able to remember and maintain the passions that have gotten him to where he is.
"You know who you are in your heart and that is who you have to be," Cardoz said.
Chef Cardoz told The Daily Meal that although he has experienced the perks of fame and fortune, he also knows what it is like to be on the other side. This notion has allowed him to remain humble and personable, which became clear as he walked around the room and chatted with guests, giving everyone a chance to meet, greet, and even eat with him.
Many of the guests expressed their love for Cardoz’s restaurant Tabla, which closed in 2010. The restaurant featured Cardoz’s innovative Indian cuisine and won numerous awards (including three stars from The New York Times). Since then however, the chef has continued on a path of success, winning Top Chef Masters in 2011 and serving as North End Grill's executive chef.
"To be a good chef you must adjust to what’s being thrown at you and adapt to it," Cardoz said, "but never compromise who you are."