Chef Floyd Cardoz‘s business partner Yash Bhanage shared a heartbreaking message with PEOPLE following the news of the Top Chef Master alum’s death on Wednesday.
Bhanage, who co-founded the hospitality company Hunger Inc. with Cardoz, Sameer Seth and Thomas Zacharias in 2014, said Cardoz was “much more than just a business partner. He was our mentor, guide, father figure all rolled into one amazing human being.”
Cardoz died of complications due to coronavirus at Mountainside Medical Centre in New Jersey, according to a spokesperson for the restaurant company. He was first admitted to the hospital with a fever and tested positive for COVID-19 one week ago.
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Cardoz and his co-founders ran The Bombay Canteen, Bombay Sweet Shop and O Pedro restaurant in Mumbai, India. Bhanage spoke of how he was a guiding force for the team in business — and in life.
“He kept us grounded and humble during the high moments and lifted our spirits whenever we felt down in the dumps,” said Bhanage to PEOPLE. “He played a huge role in the success of Hunger Inc. Hospitality and our restaurants bringing perspective and contributions that only he could.
“His passing has left a deep void that can never be filled,” he added. “We will truly miss him.”
An outpouring of love for Cardoz flooded social media on Wednesday after his close friends and fellow celebrity chefs learned of his passing. Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi posted a touching tribute, as did Hugh Acheson, David Chang, and Alex Guarnaschelli.
Cardoz was born in Bombay, India, and moved to New York City to work in restaurant kitchens. In 1997, he partnered with famed restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group to open the contemporary Indian restaurant Tabla, which quickly became an iconic Manhattan establishment, earning three stars from the New York Times. He subsequently opened North End Grill, Paowalla and Bombay Bread Bar in the city.
Cardoz is survived by his mother Beryl, his wife and business partner, Barkha, whom he met at hospitality school in India, and their two sons, Peter, 27, and Justin, 22.
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