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Barkha Cardoz on Indian Food in the U.S. and Floyd's Legacy

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About this episode

Episode 6 of The meez Podcast provides a glimpse into the life and relationship of one of the most prominent chefs in the food industry, the late Chef Floyd Cardoz, and the woman behind him, Barkha Cardoz, founder of Cardoz Legacy. The conversation showcases their love for food, family, and each other.

Barkha and Josh discuss how she and Floyd worked together to achieve a work life balance and recognized the importance of being present with their family. Floyd was a quiet person at home, but they would still discuss things when he needed an outsider's perspective. She also talks about the importance of Floyd's ability to balance spices and flavors with respecting the vegetables in his cooking.

The discussion also centers around her launch of FC Masala. In 2021, Barkha launched a line of masala blends that she and Floyd had been working on together for Burlap & Barrel. With flavors such as Garam, Goan, and Kashmir, these incredible masalas are made with high-quality, freshly ground spices to honor Floyd's passion for using freshly ground spices in his own cooking. FC Masala has grown into several other initiatives that Barkha is now launching, carrying on Chef Floyd's name while building a brand of her own.

Barkha Cardoz's story is a representation of strength and love. She speaks about the impact of her husband's loss on her life and how it led her to look inward and live in the moment. She started FC Masala to continue her husband's legacy and give back to charities close to their hearts. Barkha speaks about the importance of paying it forward and showcasing women entrepreneurs around her. She believes that it is crucial to hold hands with everyone around her and move them forward in her journey.

Where to find Barkha Cardoz:

Where to find host Josh Sharkey:

What We Cover

(3:11) Early life in the United States

(8:35) Reconnected with Floyd in NYC

(14:12) Cooking at home and finding work/life balance

(22:59) The future of Indian food in the U.S.

(30:40) What is a masala?

(33:06) The beginnings of FC masala

(38:36) Partnering with Burlap & Barrel

(42:40) Testing out masala flavors

(50:14) The FC masala recipe contest

(54:24) Creating a cookbook

(57:43) The Cardoz Legacy scholarship

(1:01:30) What’s next for Barkha


Josh Sharkey [00:00:00]:

Welcome to The meez Podcast. I'm your host, Josh Sharkey, the founder and CEO of meez, the culinary operating system for food professionals. On the show, I'll be interviewing world-class entrepreneurs in the food space that are shifting the paradigm of how we innovate and operate in our industry. Thanks for listening, and I hope you enjoy the show.


My guest today is someone near and dear to my heart. Barkha Cardoz. Barkha and I have gotten to know each other a lot more over the last couple years. There were circumstances that I wish were different.


During COVID, we lost one of the greatest chefs of our time, someone who had an immeasurable influence on our industry. A mentor to me and countless other chefs, Barkha's husband, Chef Floyd Cardoz, and it was only three weeks prior to Floyd's passing that Chef Greg Kunz, another mentor of mine and so many others, including Chef Floyd, passed away as well.


Floyd and I shared some texts back and forth after Kunz’ passing, and those were the last memories that I have of Chef Floyd. It was a really tough time for me, and of course, so much more so for Barkha. Barkha and I began speaking off and on, sometimes just to swap stories about Chef Floyd, but gradually to discuss some of the incredible initiatives that she was starting to work on.


She continued to launch a line of spice blends that she and Floyd have been working on together, and what started as a way to carry on. Floyd's legacy has grown into a number of endeavors that Barkha is now launching, and it's really amazing to see her shining and embracing life and simultaneously carrying on Chef Floyd's name while building a brand of her own.


She is, in my opinion, the truest representation of strength and love, and I couldn't be more excited and grateful to have her on the podcast today, and more so just happy to be able to call her a friend and be inspired by her. So I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did.


This podcast is brought to you by meez, the culinary operating system for food professionals. As a chef and restaurant owner for the past 20 years, I was frustrated that the only technology that we had in the kitchen was financial or inventory software. Those are important, but they don't address the actual process of cooking, training, collaboration, and consistent execution.


So I decided if it didn't exist, I'd do my best to get it built so the current and next generation of culinary pros have a digital tool dedicated to their craft. If you're a chef, mixologist operator, or generally if you manage recipes intended for professional kitchens, meez is built just for you.

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All right, Barkha, welcome to the podcast.

Barkha Cardoz [00:02:52]:

Thank you, Josh. Thank you so much for having me. This is just a pleasure.

Josh Sharkey [00:02:54]:

I'm so excited to have you here. I know we didn't talk nearly as much back in the day when I was working for Floyd at Tabla, but I've just been so grateful that we've had a chance to really get to know each other more lately, although, albeit not the circumstances we would, would have liked for that scenario.


But it's been so nice to chat with you more over the last couple years and get to know you. So maybe we could just talk a little about your background quickly, winding back, a little background on how you got here.

Barkha Cardoz [00:03:11]:

Well, so I grew up in Bombay, Mumbai as it's known right now. But when I was growing up, it was Bombay. I went to culinary school. I went to, as we would call it, the catering school in Bombay. That's where I met Floyd. I did cook for a bit. That wasn't really where I wanted to be. I loved cooking, I loved eating, but I think it was more like the front of the house that fascinated me. And so I always thought that that was where I was going to land.


Fast forward, my mom bought me a ticket to come to the States to visit and come and stay for a bit with my sister who lived in New Jersey at that point. This was in 1988, and so I was 24 years old when without realizing the gravity or the seriousness of what I was doing, I just packed a suitcase my dad was kind enough to give me, I think $500 because that's all you were allowed to bring in officially into the country at that point, and I had no idea what I was doing, and I just showed up in New Jersey in my mind that come with the intention of staying for a month or so.


And when I came here, I realized there was so much that was available to do and see. I started working at a jewelry place. There were some family friends that had a jewelry stall in a jewelry exchange place, and I worked with them for a bit and then eventually, I remember my first trip to New York was on my own.


My sister put me on a bus and said, well, this is how the streets run. This is how the avenues go. And told me where I was going, what street, what avenue? And put me on a bus from Montclair, New Jersey to New York City to go meet with someone to do an interview for a job as a receptionist in the garment center.


And now when I think back, I was like, what were you thinking? How did you just get on that bus and just go? No phones, no idea where I was going. Naive as hell. Never been to New York City. But I think, you know, when you're 24, you are fearless and you think you own the world. And that's the mindset I had and I went for this job interview.


Unfortunately, when you come from any part of the world to the states, no matter what your education is, what your life experiences are, or what work experience you have, it all goes down to zero when you get here. And so then it's like whatever you get, you fumble. You know, you just grab whatever's the first job you get.


And so I knew some Indians that had businesses in the garment center and one of them hired me to be a receptionist for them. And so phones and I was like, wow, I'm getting paid. I'm okay with this.


How does it feel? You know, coming to America and just knowing that whatever you learned and studied or became proficient at in the other country just is wiped away here. I can't imagine what that feeling is.

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