ACTOR DENZIL Smith’s favourite memory of Floyd Cardoz is of lovely evenings spent hanging out in the balconies of St Andrew’s High School and “just shooting the breeze”. They were bench-mates from the seventh standard to the tenth standard in the 1970s, a time that Smith described as “the age of innocence”.
“We were a gang of four, along with Roy Venkataraman, who later played with The Wailers, and Subhir Roy. We hardly studied together and were up to the usual nonsense, but we never let our grades suffer,” Smith said. The friends would spend time at Cardoz’s place in Virendra Colony, near St Andrew’s Church in Bandra, where his mother was known to be an excellent cook, whipping up some of the best Goan hallmarks, from cafreal to vindaloo.
Cardoz, who succumbed to COVID-19 on March 25 in New York City, was very much a Bandra boy and a participant in its vibrant cultural life. Pianist and composer Merlin D’Souza, who is close friends with Cardoz’s family, spoke of music as a great part of his life. As a teenager 38 years ago, D’Souza was the music director of parish plays and musicals at St Peter’s Church, and Cardoz featured at least a couple of times in them – once as an angel singing Neil Diamond’s Holly Holy and another time as St Joseph.
“Floyd belonged to the St Andrew’s parish, but he would come to St Peter’s for mass. During practice for the musicals, he would often bring along snacks that he had made,” said D’Souza, who had formed a band called Fame with Cardoz’s brother, Kim, back then. She described her late friend’s presence as “quiet but special”, soft-spoken, with a great smile. “He had a lot of determination, whether it was about love or cooking,” she added.
Meldan D’Cunha, the owner of one of Bandra’s most popular joints, Soul Fry, worked with Cardoz at The Oberoi in the late 1980s. He remembers Cardoz as efficient and hardworking, but as “one of those rare people who took up Indian cuisine after graduating from catering college”.
Cardoz graduated from Institute of Hotel Management (IHM) in Dadar in 1983, after a short-lived stint with biochemistry at St Xavier’s College. His professor who taught him food service management at IHM shared the same opinion as D’Cunha. Former professor Pushparaj Shetty, who owns Dynasty restaurant in Santa Cruz, said, “He was a conscientious student who was more comfortable with French cuisine. So I was quite surprised that he took to cooking, that too Indian cooking.”
Smith said he had lost touch with his boyhood friend for a long while and managed to reconnect with him some years ago through a school WhatsApp group. He said, “Floyd was devoted to everything he did. He would have excelled in whatever career he had chosen.”
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