Floyd Cardoz left Mumbai over two decades ago to pursue a career in New York City. He is best known as the executive chef of Tabla, a contemporary Indian restaurant that was revered by New Yorkers for 10 years before it shut down in 2010. Cardoz has since helmed the kitchen at celebrity restaurateur Danny Meyer’s North End Grill and stayed in the limelight thanks to his win on the third season of the reality cooking competition Top Chef Masters and, most recently, as a culinary consultant on The Hundred-Foot Journey.

This year, Cardoz quit the Union Square Hospitality Group and will begin work on three new restaurant projects. We had a chance to speak to him when he came on a recce recently ahead of the launch of his first restaurant, Bombay Canteen, in Mumbai, at the end of the year. Edited excerpts:

Take us through the series of events that prompted you to take up a new restaurant project in Mumbai.

I worked for Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group for 17 years, opening Tabla and then the North End Grill, which I left in April to take some time off and to re-evaluate what I want to do with my life and where I wanted to go.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do next but I’ve always known that at some point in my career, I’d like to return to Indian flavours. It just so happened that in between jobs, this movie called The Hundred-Foot Journey came up. It’s about an Indian chef, a guy from Bombay, who becomes a chef in France and I feel like the story is very similar to my own.

This pushed me to think about my interest in doing something in India, it was just a matter of me finding the right group of guys to tie up with, people I believed in. I met Sameer Seth, a young, Mumbai-based go-getter, for the first time in New York when I interviewed him three-four years ago. I asked him what he was doing in the US and told him that if I were his age, I would be in India because the country is bubbling with opportunities.

He worked with me for a little while and it’s now been a year since Sameer and I started talking about Bombay Canteen. Apart from this project, I will soon open a new restaurant called White Street in Tribeca, and I also have plans to open another Indian quick-serve kind of restaurant in the US.

You recently spent time visiting new restaurants in India—what did you think of them?

Looking at all the menus and speaking to all the restaurateurs in Bombay, I felt like everybody does the same mix at their restaurants; you know, pizzas, pasta and burgers. Nobody’s taking the risk to do something different, and the other disappointing thing is that there are so many amazing ingredients in India that no one in India is looking at.

Everybody wants to use the zucchinis and the asparagus and the broccolis rather than celebrating the lesser-known ingredients we have here, like green bajra, amaranth leaves or even fish like mackerel. I visited the market at Pali Naka (in Mumbai) and it was disappointing to see produce like cherries from Spain and grapes from California.

Menus here are ridiculously long. The other night I went to a restaurant with 90 dishes on the menu and because of that, we were served something bad, like rotten. This kind of thing wouldn’t happen if you had a restaurant with 30-40 dishes. India is ripe for someone to come and open a restaurant where the menu changes regularly based on the availability of local produce.

What will Bombay Canteen be like?

Thomas Zacharias will be our executive chef and I will come down for the opening of the restaurant, and multiple times through the year. What we want to do with our restaurant is to try and celebrate this wonderful country we have here, its culinary heritage.

My style of cooking is local and seasonal as far as possible, so that is the one thing you will see here too. Another thing we are concerned with is the pricing. We don’t want to make a restaurant you can come to once a month or once a year. We want to make a restaurant you can visit at least once a week or twice a month, we want to look at our price points in a way that different kinds of people can access the restaurant.

Bombay Canteen is scheduled to open at Kamala Mills in Lower Parel, Mumbai, at the end of the year

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