Goodbye to Chef Floyd Cardoz (1960-2020)

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By Dimitris Eleas*

A goodbye to Floyd Cardoz? Sadly yes, because fortunes soar and plunge. It is very difficult and painful, to believe that Floyd is not around anymore. Cardoz’s death is a huge loss. Floyd Cardoz has been a famous chef, a restaurateur, a humble human being, and also for me personally, a friend and a mentor. A well-mannered hero at large, with a smile that illuminated America, with ethos, and not, “a toothless farmer” like many others in the restaurant world. For many months, I worked with him in New York City.

Floyd was always with a lively smile on his face. Yes a smile, because possibly he knew that LIFE on this planet is only for a short period of time. Unfortunately, with Covid-19 pandemic, it became even shorter for himself. Floyd knew well, that, if you want to make the right impression in a matter of seconds, you have to smile. Smiling broadly. The first impression counts.

The first smile counts, but the last smile bites undoubtedly. He was also tough at others. With a smile Floyd could even bite you if you didn’t do a good job. He once said to a member of staff: “Every employee should perform at the best of their ability, and only then, the restaurant kitchen, the dining room, the restaurant as a whole will perform better!” I think he meant, execute you damn job well, without complaining, and don’t think about the sacrifice is needed. Duty is needed. “The best present you can offer to people is to give them mirrors from time to time” he said another time.

For him, besides the name Dimitris, I was the, Mr Loukoumades, he had given me this nickname. I didn’t mind, on the contrary, I was after him in order to taste every single thing he was cooking. Either it was a whole chicken in the over, imam bayildi with eggplants, or a tomato sauce, from freshly chopped ingredients. The taste was always sunny, eternal and perplexing. One time, he got upset with me, because he found out that the cinnamon I was using was old, and it had lost all its aroma and aura. I changed it right away. Floyd knew that the small details in cooking make the big difference.

In honoring Floyd Cardoz, I put pen to paper for a few thoughts and a few aphorisms on restaurants. It’s important to separate the chaff from the wheat in the restaurant industry. In memoriam of a Bright Star. In memoriam of a Brave Man, that could easily be a Spartan next to Leonidas at the Battle of Thermopylae against Xerxes I (480BC). In memoriam, a few aphorisms are strikes of wisdom. Aphorisms are strikes of moments into eternity. In the restaurant world, we always had many semantic people working, including Francisco de Goya as a waiter (in Madrid), Ho Chi Minh as a chef (in London), and George Orwell as a cleaner (in Paris). You are about to read a few lines On Restaurants, the domain in which Cardoz revealed his unique abilities:

[1] Everyone knows that the customer is always right. However, with humor and a cleverly placed smile, hypocritical or not, all realize their fallibility.

[2] Catching a waiter’s eye is not always easy. As a waiter avoids having his eye caught, he is fully aware of being useless.

[3] As we know, the eye eats food before the stomach does. If the waiters must be dancers, the chefs must be sculptors and painters.

[4] Every restaurant has a reputation. It is easier to lose it than to drop a plate.

[5] One of the fortunate things about restaurants is that a jaw dropping on receipt of a bill is generally silent.

[6] When we see people eating, we discover half of their personality. To discover the other half we need a lifetime.

[7] Before eating, we read the menu. The menu is as the bell was for Pavlov’s dogs. It is the waiter’s job to guide our salivatory urges in the right direction.

[8] Though for years restaurateurs have insisted on the catch-phrase, location, location, location, nowadays we need to add the mantra, ambience, ambience, and okay, yes location.

[9] A good waiter will hear a piece of cutlery falling; merely from the sound that it makes on the floor he will know which implement to collect from the service station to replace it.

[10] An empty restaurant is a desert. The first diners to arrive are the first drops of rain on sand. The diners will finish their meal with a dessert, which always has to be sugar with arts.

“Anyway, why don’t you eat at home?” the pioneering Chef is dead. The oval-shaped lemons, the round limes cry in shock about him (the onions cry too). Floyd was sweeter than the citrus fruits, the lemons, the limes. If you didn’t like sugar and desserts before Floyd’s death, now, you will even hate them! Why? The loss of Floyd Cardoz, for the people that met him, will leave an eternal wound. The unique dramatist William Shakespeare, that stands in Paradise waiting―like the gun waiting in order to fire the bullet―for his glorious moment! “Hmm? His glorious moment?” Yes, the moment for meeting the 59 years old Floyd Cardoz, the smoothest Chef ever! Shakespeare has started off and writing on, a new chilling play, with the title: “The King of Taste and the merry Knifes and Forks of New York City!”

*Dimitris Eleas is a New York City-based writer, political activist, and service industry worker. You can contact him via his e-mail: [email protected]