#6. This episode 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.
Where to find Barkha Cardoz:
Where to find host Josh Sharkey:
In this episode, 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.
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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.
Barkha Cardoz [00:06:37]:
Your first reaction is like, what the hell am I doing here? Why am I not going back home? Especially when you come from families where you don't need to be here. You're not here because there's no other way out. It's a choice you're making and you're coming here.
So that's very different. But I think what it does, it also makes you stronger mentally to say, watch me. Yes, I'm gonna be a little late to the party, but watch me. I'm going to show up. And I think that's what that did for Floyd and me. We both came here with work experiences, having skill sets, and we literally had to start from the bottom.
And I think that makes you proud because you realize this is the only country in the world that yes, it kind of pushes you to the base, to the bottom, but it also provides you with space to grow. And I think that is what we took away from it, is that yes, we started out late, but we got the opportunities.
It's there if you want it. It's not easy. It's not like it comes with a bunch of roses by the side to say like, okay, here, welcome. No, it's hard. They push you, you get pushed in every direction, but it is just mentally, it makes you stronger and I'm always grateful for that.
Josh Sharkey [00:08:02]:
I guess there are substitutes for it, but anything that puts that chip in your shoulder and reminds you, I know this sounds harsh, but like none of us are special. Right. We all have to prove ourselves helpful, but I can't imagine it still must be, you know, tough because I'm sure you worked really hard before you got to the States. So you took a job as a receptionist wandering into the streets of New York and then somehow, carried you on to, you know, meeting Floyd again and getting into whatever you guys got into. So I'd love to hear more about what came next after that.
Barkha Cardoz [00:08:35]:
I met some really good people along the way that were friends of my sister and you know, family, friends. Because when you come here, you know, two and a half people and you always gravitate to your own because there's a comfort of not having to explain yourself.
I remember when I was working at the jewelry place, everybody would walk in and say, well, isn't your name Barkha? And I'm like, no, it's Barkha. And it's like, well, but it's so difficult for me to say Barkha. And I'm like, well, if I can say Peter, John, or Mary, why can't you make the effort to learn my name?
And it started with that. So there was always that pushback of you’re different. What are you doing here? There were some that at that point were not very nice. There were a lot of people that were just. Scared and curious to say like you're different. And I think that was the biggest factor of adjustments.
And of course, the usual cookie cutter that you get is “Oh, how did you learn to speak English? You speak so well.” And it was just stuff like that that was, you know, in the eighties and nineties, that was a thing that because there was a lack of awareness, there was a lack of exposure. And unfortunately that showed up in almost being ignorant.
Well, not almost. I think there's certainly an ignorance there that we had.
Barkha Cardoz: [00:10:01]:
And Floyd and I happened to meet again in the States through common friends that just told me, oh, there's a friend of mine that's working here that went to the same school that you went to and would you like to meet him? Like, I can give you their number. And I'm like, ah, Floyd and I are good friends. Yeah, I'd like to because it's one more person that I know in my like big group of five, I'll take a sixth one in. And we just started hanging out with the other friends that we had from cooking school. And a couple of years later we started dating and got married.
And was that when Chef was at Lespinasse or, or before that?
No, no. He was working for an Indian restaurant in like the hundred-hundred and 20th Street or something like that. Then he worked for the Taj Group of hotels at their restaurant midtown called Ragga. It’s an amazing, beautiful Indian restaurant with artifacts from India and in that amazing way of what Taj does everywhere.
It was just brilliant. He worked there as a sous chef. We got married while he was there. And then Lespinasse happened after that. We got married in 1991 here we had two weddings the same day. We had an Indian wedding and a church wedding because I'm Hindu and he's Catholic. And so we did both the ceremonies on the same day so that none of the parents, either his mom or my mom would say like, oh, your wedding anniversary this date or that date. We were like, we're just going to squash that right here. So we literally, like fools, did two ceremonies on the same day. It was crazy.
Josh Sharkey [00:11:55]:
So you two were friends for a while and then you started dating. So who instigated that?
Barkha Cardoz [00:12:00]:
We were really good friends when we went cooking school and the fact that we came from two different religions, you never went that space of like, okay, I like this guy. He always used to say he really liked me, but you know, I was Hindu. It didn't even go through my head that you could be interested. I liked him as a friend and we were very, very close. When you come to this country, like I said, you are lonely.
You are on your own. You realize that you gravitate towards your own and that's when you realize it's not about religion, it's not about culture, it's your upbringing. It's the familiarity of he gets me, he gets where we grew up, we know, you know what our homes are like and stuff, and so that friendship got stronger. There was a lot of loneliness and there was a lot of being on your own. And so it was like, great, you have a companion, you have a friend that you can hang out with. And that gradually made you realize like, you know, relationships start with friendships. I think that the big thing that helped us was that we were good friends forever. And from that came that love and that attraction and that respect. But I think it was that first friendship that brought us together.
Josh Sharkey [00:13:17]:
And I think it's so true, like also just understanding something, like really, truly understanding someone is what is the most important or maybe the most important element to a happy relationship? My wife and I always say, if you don't really understand where someone's coming from, it's very hard to truly sort of connect with them. It's such an obvious correlation. When you're coming to the country, it doesn't matter. You know, if you have different religions or different sex, if you know someone and you're, and you're in the same circle, that has to be a huge driver.
But you know, you also really understood him. I think it showed, you know, so much ] think over the years from our perspective as cooks, like the influence that you had. I'd love to maybe just chat a little bit about that. We're sort of fast forwarding a bit. Obviously I met Chef Floyd at Tabla when I was working there as a cook.
You and I didn't really meet that often. I think we maybe met once or twice, but it was pretty clear for all of us in the kitchen, like there was this other influence on Floyd for the culture and the food. Did you all talk about dishes at home that might be on the menu or talk about the team or how he was running the kitchen? Were those conversations that you two had?
Barkha Cardoz [00:14:28]:
Floyd didn't talk much. I don't know if you realized that Floyd was very quiet, at least at home he was. And I'd always have this joke with him, like, you don't talk. And he is like, well, someone's got to listen. And I'm like, okay, because I love to talk. It's like I could talk from here to eternity and there's still more to say.
When we first started dating and when we got married, we realized that, you know, this is such a difficult, hard business in relationships because you are always gone. I mean, you work in the business, you love it, it gives you what you want, but your family suffers. Your balance in life suffers because it consumes you, especially when you are, you know, passionate like you guys are about what you do.
You tend to forget that there is stuff around you. And we were very clear about the fact that we wanted a balance in life. I think Floyd signed onto that more after we had Peter where he would come home from Lespainess and the days he was off that first day, Pete would refuse to look at him because it was like, where were you?
And then by the time he got used to it and started talking to Floyd or was around Floyd, Floyd would be gone again. And so I think that was something that we decided that we both couldn't be in the business or we couldn't be gone. So, we balanced that out and I missed it. I missed that aspect of life. I wanted to be in that business and I can't, and I'm in the garment center doing stuff because I had to be home at a decent hour.
So I think it initially started out with just that sharing so that I didn't feel like I was out of it completely. And then as things happened and as life grew, he would share what he needed to share. If there was something that was going on in his head or he felt, you know, maybe he wanted a different perspective from an outsider, we'd talk about it, we'd talk about people or his reactions or things that happen on a daily basis. But it was never me telling him what to do because you know, everybody knows what they need to do.
I would always look at it from my perspective as an outsider looking in, well, did you think about this? So maybe this is what happened and Floyd would never like to come out and say, oh, you're right. Yeah. Like that. He'd just sit quiet with it. Yeah. But then a few days later you'd realize like he really paid attention to what I had to say because it would happen if it was the right decision or the right thought process that I put out.
As far as food was concerned, Josh, Floyd grew up in a family that was very Goan. Goan cuisine is very protein, meat heavy. They don't do a lot of vegetables, they don't do a lot of breads. It's very like the main dish on your plate has to be a meat, a fish, maybe two meats. And when I started living with him, I'm like, I can't eat like this.
I need my vegetables. I need my balance, I need my roti, I need stuff. So he was fascinated because you know, Floyd always loved food. For him, it was like add more to my plate. So he would take some of that, the vegetarian part of it, or you know, my mom or my way of cooking the meats. And then he'd adapt it, you know, Floyd was very good with, I'll take a little idea from here, or this spark something, or this flavor profile works for me, and then just run with it. So yes, as far as that stuff, those were the little influences I had, but not on what he did.
Josh Sharkey [00:18:17]:
Yeah, so much that I can relate to there as well. Just I hear from my wife, I'll just be in my own head for an hour and it's tough because you know, you're not present. I have two kids as well and she'll catch me and she'll be like, I know you're not here.
You know, back in the day it was me thinking about food and now it's thinking about other things, but I'm sure that isn't easy to deal with. I know from hearing from my family that it's tough, but like even when he is home, I'm sure sometimes he's not fully there because he is, you know, thinking about some dish or some iteration of something.
It's so funny you say that there weren't a lot of vegetables, you know, growing up for him because there was so much of that at Tabla. I mean, we were at the green market every single day for a restaurant that used so many spices and there was a lot of meat. There was every vegetable you can think of, and if it was in season, we were using it and never met any chef that could balance spices and flavors the way that he did with still sort of respecting the vegetables. So, I have to imagine that some of that came from eating more of those at home. But when you all ate at home, who did most of the cooking?
Barkha Cardoz [00:19:24]:
I did. I cooked Monday through Friday. When we first started out, it was like I would do two meals, Josh, for dinner, because the boys refused to eat Indian food. And Floyd wanted only Indian food.
Josh Sharkey [00:19:31]:
That's so funny. I would've thought that Floyd coming home would've been like, give me a burger. Give me a sandwich.
No. Oh, no, no, no, no, no. Burgers and pizzas were snacks in Floyd's head. Floyd's meal was his meat curry. His rice or roti. He wanted to have a vegetable with it all. It was a full blown Indian meal every single night and no leftovers.
So you did all the cooking. Floyd did the dishes?
No, he didn't.
I'd always laugh and tell him, even when he cooked, when we had weekends off, he would cook because he loved cooking, he loved feeding. So he would cook for the boys, he'd cook for me, and then I would say, can you not cook?
Josh Sharkey [00:20:24]:
I bet there would be like 400 pots, right?
Barkha Cardoz [00:20:27]:
And he said, why? I said, you have to bring someone from the restaurant to help me wash these dishes.
Josh Sharkey [00:20:30]:
That is the problem when we cook at home. We would use every single pot and pan.
Barkha Cardoz [00:20:34]:
Okay, so it wasn't just him, it's all of you.
Josh Sharkey [00:20:35]:
No, it's, yeah, it's just, you know, par for the course, but I'm 99.9% sure you guys we're not eating at home the way that Tabla upstairs was. I have to imagine some of what we cooked at the bread bar or maybe even at Paowalla or something, you know, it was somewhat similar to some of the stuff, you know, you ate at home.
Barkha Cardoz [00:21:01]
We did, but you know, Indian cuisine is so different in every home, in every part of the country that you go to. It's very different. You will never, ever get tired of Indian food if you travel in India because every state has their own ways of making the same vegetable, the same meat. It's just flavor profiles and techniques that change.
So when he came home, it was my way of cooking. It was what I grew up with, what I like to eat. And you almost are very mindful of it not being, at least we were not being fried, not being greasy. Not being heavy. It had to be light flavors, you know? Also with the fact that we were eating so late.
By the time he came home and then he'd, you know, unwind, have a drink and then sit down to eat. We never ate early.
Josh Sharkey [00:21:51]:
What time are you eating?
Barkha Cardoz [00:21:53]:
Oh my God, really bad. 9:30 or 10.
Josh Sharkey [00:21:57]:
The kids too?
Barkha Cardoz [00:22:00]:
No, the kids eat earlier. The kids would be in bed. The kids would eat at seven. And that's why it was like half the time I’d make pastas or put a quick grilled chicken together or something. But then one day I was like, okay, this is it. I quit. I'm giving up my job of being a mom. And they were like, why? I'm like, I can't do this. I can't work full-time, run kids to sports, and then cook two separate meals. Like there'd be days when Floyd would call me on his way out from Tabla and say, I'm going to get the car.
And I'm like, I have an hour, 45 minutes to an hour. And then I'd start cooking his meals and it was impossible. So then the boys and Floyd had to sign a pact where twice a week Floyd had to eat something that wasn't Indian. And the boys would say, okay, for two days or three days of the week, we'll eat Indian food. And that's how my life got a little easier.
Josh Sharkey [00:22:59]:
It's still not easy, I'm sure. Wow. Well, I mean you were talking about Indian food and obviously like saying Indian food is like saying Mexican food. There're so many regions that, you know, Goan food is completely different from what you get in Bombay or you know, Kashmir, but you know in America, like what do we get right about Indian food? It's obviously grown a bit in the last 20 years. Is there anything that you feel like we get right about in America?
Barkha Cardoz [00:23:20]:
It's exciting. Americans have finally realized that Indian food is not just your chicken tikka masala and palak paneer. For no fault of this, that was what they were exposed to in the seventies and even like up to the mid eighties, late eighties.
When I came here, if someone asked me, where do you go to eat Indian food? I'm like home. I won't eat out because that's not the Indian food we eat. You know, they thought it was greasy and it was spicy and it upset your stomach. And I think they finally realized that that wasn't Indian food. And I think it's more because of the exposure that we've got from travel from the UK because the UK has such a big influence on how the rest of the world looks at Indian food.
They're always steps ahead of what they are ready to try. I think in the past, I want to say like five, seven years. Americans have opened their hearts and minds to spices to not be fearful of eating it to different things. That there's always like, you know, a chaat is just street food.
It's just appetizers, it's just fun stuff. Then you're going down to eating different kinds of cuisines, whether it's a South Indian or a North Indian. It's not just one type of Indian food, which is just your, you know, the mughlai, as we would call it, where there was a lot of butter and cream and it was just meat heavy and it was maybe two or three sauces or curries that were made, and then you just threw in different proteins.
They've realized and they expect, and they're almost asking for more flavors and more cuisines of India, which is what is so exciting. It's so much fun to watch because they're not asking you to dumb it down anymore. And that's what they're getting.
Josh Sharkey [00:25:23]:
I really hope that that continues and that sort of myopic view of what Indian food is in the same way that, you know, we viewed Chinese food or Mexican food, that there's one sort of monoculture of what the food is and a couple flavors that are everything.
And I hope that the country can start to embrace that more because, yeah, I mean, working Floyd, we would see so many different things. I mean, I didn't know what Hydrabad was or you know, any of these other regions or how the food was so vastly different from one to another. And it was, you know, it's so similar to, I mean it's to any country, any country, Italian food is not the same in Bologna as it is in, you know, in Naples or in the north in Piedmont.
And it's the same thing in Oaxaca versus Vera Cruz versus, you know, Sonora and India is no different. So like what's your outlook on how much Indian food can sort of grow and be embraced in the States?
Barkha Cardoz [00:26:06]:
Oh, just watch. I am so looking forward to the next five, seven years to see, and it's not just gonna be mainstream in the big cities. Because that happens no matter what you do. That happens because people, you know, there's more exposure. But it's when you go into the small cities and you go to these mom and pop places and you know that they are not cooking for Americans. For an American palette, but they're cooking to let you see what Indian food is about and that is the change.
It's us being ready to just own our own culture, own our own spaces, and be proud of it. Because when you do that, you come from a lot of authority, you come from a lot of confidence and it literally goes out in ripples to people coming in to say, okay, I'm going to eat your food. And it's not make your food to suit my palate. And that's the transition that's happening with Indian food. And once that door's been open, there's no going back and it's just going to be amazingly exciting.
Josh Sharkey [00:27:02]:
Yeah. I think it's undeniable to say, and I'll just say it, I'm sure you would probably agree that Chef Floyd was a huge part of opening that door. And if it wasn't for him, and you know, as a cook and working for Floyd, I know Chef as just an incredible technician and an incredible leader and mentor and just a great chef. I didn't even think about, you know, that he makes really good Indian food, but he's just, you know, technically one of the best craftsmen that I've ever had the pleasure of working for.
And it took that type of person with that type of passion and vision and, and also just courage to go and do that thing. And he opened the door for everybody. Now that's doing it. And you wouldn't have, I don't think you would have chefs like Chintan and, and all these incredible chefs that are doing this now if, if it wasn't for Chef Floyd. So, you know, it's just a testament to what legacy he's leaving for the rest of us. And I agree. I really do think that Indian food is just getting started in the States.
I just wish he was there, Josh, and it's so strange. And I'm getting crazy now. I love watching it. And especially these past three, four years, just watching where we've come with Indian food. Oh my God. He would be like dancing on the rooftops to say, finally people get it finally, I don't have to make it. You know? Like, oh my God, I'm going to make duck samosa because people get duck. They love it. I mean, he did stuff that nobody even dreamed could be done. I didn't. I'm like, where do you get this stuff from?
And he goes, it comes from my heart. It just comes from my heart. But to see what's being taken and accepted today for Indian food being Indian food, like you said, Chintan and Ronnie doing unapologetic Indian, and we had to be mindful of not alienating people from coming in. So yes, he did Indian food, but he was ahead of his time.
He was so ahead of his time and he couldn't do it the way it's done today. But seeing what they did at Bombay Canteen and O Pedro in India. And I would always say to him, oh my God, like that food. And he goes, Barkha, we don't have to think. We can just do it. And to see the kids, and for me, these guys are all like young kids coming up and I'm so excited for them to see them just do that without thinking and just doing it without fear, without boundaries. It's just gonna be so much fun. And I wish Floyd was here to watch it.
Josh Sharkey [00:29:44]:
I think he knows. Like I said, it's a reminder every day. I know I've said this to you and everyone that's ever worked for Floyd has memories like this, but. You know, the impact that he had, it just keeps coming back. You know, once a week or maybe every other week, I will clean basmati rice and make, you know, something with that at home.
And that process of rinsing and putting it through my fingers and, you know, at least 10 or 20 times getting the water in there, it's just, I can't help but think of Floyd every single time and there's a hundred memories like that. And I'm just one of the many, many cooks that experienced that. So I'm just really grateful and grateful that you're carrying this on.
So why don't we carry on by talking about masala? Because you two are working on that and you are now taking it and running with it. So before we get into FC Masala, which is the company that you're growing now, what is Masala?
Barkha Cardoz [00:30:40]:
So the word Masala basically in Hindi means a mix. It's just a blend. A mix. So Masalas are basically anything that you put together with different spices, you can either have them whole, mix them together and use them as such, or you then grind them, and then you mix them. So normally if you see anyone, any Indian person cooking, like most moms or most people that aren't chefs, they'll have like a little tin with different spices that are ground.
As they're cooking, they'll just throw in a spoon of this and a half a spoon of that and a quarter spoon of this. And that's a masala that they're putting into it. And every region in India has every, actually, not even region, every home has their own masalas that are their go-tos. Either they'll blend it and keep it so that they can just throw it into, you know, the onions that they're blooming or they're sorting or as a finishing or then they buy them if they don’t have it.
There are even people in India where depending on the season, just before the rains start, before the monsoons come, that will blend 18 to 20 different kinds of spices put together in different ratios and make these bottles and jars. There's a community called the East Indians in Bombay that will actually have women sit there and actually physically pound all these spices and then they stuff them in bottles. Dark beer bottles that are dark so that it doesn't absorb light stuff it and seal them and that's their bottle masala, their secret spice to cook most of their food with for the year. So that's what masalas are. It's basically just a mix and a blend of different spices depending on how you like to use them.
Josh Sharkey [00:32:32]:
Thank you for sharing that. It's so funny how in the states we not only bastardize, but there's like these duplicate words. You know, like chai tea and masala spice mix. You know, mole sauce. I think it's just, again, that's sort of my myopic view of everybody's latches onto this one thing and they assumed that that's it. And don't dig any deeper. And obviously I know what masala is, you know, I work for Floyd, but the misconception that there is just crazy. And it’s so funny that there are these sort of double words.
Barkha Cardoz [00:33:03]:
I think Floyd's pet peeve was when someone came in, the one in naan bread.
Josh Sharkey [00:33:06]:
Yeah. Naan bread.Or, curry powder. Again, I think in 5 or 10 years maybe those will be more ubiquitous terms people will know. Ookay, now we know what a masala is. Let's talk about FC masala and how it launched, the origin story of the brand. And maybe just talk a little bit about what it is.
Barkha Cardoz [00:33:31]:
Basically, like I told you, I would cook, right? And then Floyd will call me and say it's 30 minutes out, 40 minutes out, and I'm like, I'm on the line in my house and he's going to show up and he's going to want his meal.
And there were days when I was well prepared and my head was all together and I'd cook. And there were days when it was just like my entire day had gone past me and I was still trying to catch my breath. So I would then actually use pre-prepared masalas that Floyd never knew I had hiding in the pantry.
Josh Sharkey [00:34:07]:
Are we whispering right now?
Josh Sharkey [00:34:09]:
I would just put those in whatever meat or whatever I was cooking because we never kept pre-ground spices at home. It was something that Floyd would not be happy with. And I realized that we needed to cook and I had to grind my spices and not being someone that was really quick on my feet to think about what to make to put dinner out.
I would stumble and I'd have roadblocks with cooking. And so I'm like, I'm just going to keep a few of these. So these are like my go-tos when I'm stuck. And I always thought, eh, a little bit of this here, a little bit of that there. It won't make a difference. And I would cook. And he was just one of those kind people that was always grateful that you had a meal ready for him when he came home.
He'd eat, and then in the night, he'd say, did you have a rough day? And I'm like, why are you asking? And he goes, well, I think you used some masala from somewhere. And I'm like, how do you know? He goes, well, last time I checked, I’m a chef. Right. I do know my flavors. So that became the standing joke between us that, you know, if he didn't help me Monday through Friday with different things, he'd probably eat one of the store bought masalas in his curry.
And he wasn't happy about it. So we started blending small quantities and keeping them, or he would prepare things for me and keep them. You know, and just do stuff to help facilitate all the stuff that was going on with life and family.
Josh Sharkey [00:35:45]:
I'm surprised he didn't just have us in the kitchen do that for him.
Barkha Cardoz [00:35:47:
No, he would never do that. He would never do that. That was one thing he was very clear about because he grew up in kitchens where it just became an extension and he's like, they're tired. That's why he would never eat at the restaurant as well. You know, he wanted to come home and eat his regular food, but he'd be very awkward to have people cook for him even if he had to because he's like, I can't do that to people. It’s not fair.
Josh Sharkey [00:36:11]:
It's funny. I think most of us would probably have been really excited to be able to cook for him. Well, yeah. Or just like, oh, we get to make a spice plan.
Barkha Cardoz [00:36:17]:
He loved his family meals for that.
Josh Sharkey [00:36:20]:
By the way, usually one of the tell tales of a really great restaurant is how good the family meals are and he would let us go wild. I remember I learned so much about mole at the time we were in his Indian restaurant, but I started getting really into Mexican cuisine and he let me kind of spent way too many hours digging into, you know, how to make mole and all and all the spices that I remember a few times when he was getting really excited because he would see all the individual spices that we'd be toasting for the mole, which this was a mole de xico at the time, but that we were making, but I was making for family meal.
And I remember he was really excited about it cuz there were so many parallels. But he let us do so much of that. I was like, I remember curing guanciale in the cabinet. He was just so gracious with letting us explore and do things outside of Tabla cuisine for family meals and I never forgot that.
Barkha Cardoz [00:37:14]:
But that was learning for him as well. He loved it because there were always parallels to everything that was being done. So he'd helped me with that stuff, and that became our go-to with having blends in the house, having masalas in the house, so that it was easier for me to do stuff for us as a family. And then I'd always say to him, you know, we should do these spice blends. And he would always say, it's not easy to do that, because at that time there was no e-commerce, it was all shelf space and retail. And he goes, who's going to do it? Who's going to do this full-time? And I'd always say, I'll do it.
And he would laugh at me and he's like, you can barely get through your day and you want to add more things to your plate, like, leave it. It's not gonna work because then you're going to drop it. His thing with me was always, you start something and you'll drop. And then it doesn't happen. And I realized the reason for that was my priority was family and him and my kids.
And that was something I wasn't ready to drop. So everything else had to be dropped. And we just started making the masalas and the kids started asking for those when they went to college. And so that's where we got our whole thing of doing the blends. And in 2019 is when we started working on it together to say. Because I was always like, I need to know what I'm going to do when I grow up, Floyd, the kids are gone. What am I going to do? And, and so that's how the masalas started.
Josh Sharkey [00:38:36]:
Got it. And I know you partner with Burlap and Barrel, who I'm talking with Ethan and Ori actually, I think tomorrow on the podcast. But what I'm curious about, I know this sounds silly to say this, but I don't know how they're so good. Like, you buy spice blends all the time at stores. I've tried all of these obviously and we did a few for the contest, which we'll talk about later.
But all of them are like, they're so fresh and they're so strong in a good way. How do you maintain that? You opened up this jar and it's like, holy shit. I remember having the garam masala and just, whoa, I don't even need to do anything with this. I just sprinkle it on grapefruit and it was delicious. You know, what do you do to keep it so fresh and so pungent?
Barkha Cardoz [00:39:24]:
So I think it all starts with what you use as your basic single spices to make a blend. Hats off to Ethan and Ori. It's amazing because they literally go to the source. They buy the entire crop for the season from the farmers.
So you know that there's no dilatation of spices. You know, it's not sat around, you know, till it's actually physically brought over. The moment it's dried out and it's packed, it's here. So the freshness of that is something that we're not used to because every blend that you see, you don't know where the original spices came from, how long they were sitting around and then they were blended, and then they were packaged, and then that sits for longer. Whereas here, the spices come in and most of them, we initially, when we did, we were grinding everything. So you knew it was literally not even like a six month old harvest that you ground and you mix together.
Then it's just the balancing of the flavors and the first three spices that we did, which was the Goan masala, the Kashmir, and the Garam. Floyd and I had been working on those flavor profiles in 2019. Ethan was sending us samples and Ethan always says, Chef gave me like one clove and four cloves, and I'm trying to like now take that up to a level where I can actually make enough.
And yeah, so there was a lot of work and tweaking to do and Floyd had started to do that. And then unfortunately, you know, 2020 came and Floyd passed away. And then the first time that we did the actual blending. I went upstate with Ethan and Ori, and this was around August or something, and we were doing the blends.
And the machine that was supposed to come to actually blend the masalas didn't show up because it was COVID. And so we used those big commercial coffee grinders. We ground each spice, all of us. And then we had these mixers that we were trying to do and we couldn't. So we physically had to go into 250 pounds of spices and mix it up.
And my biggest fear at that point was I wasn't afraid of the flavors, but I was afraid of the bulk in which we were doing it. If I knew what I was doing, because it was Floyd's here, Floyd will figure it out, like he'll tweak it. Even when I'd cook. I'm like, can you just taste it to make sure it's okay? So I'm like, where are you?
Why are you not tasting? And he wasn't there. And that's when I realized I had to go and dig deep inside me and just say, I know these flavors. We've done it for so long. We cooked it. I've cooked with it, and just own it. And I think that's what you see in those flavors is just us owning what we are doing.
Josh Sharkey [00:42:23]:
They're incredible. I have to ask, when you are testing spice blends, are you testing by using them to cook something like, you know, are you cooking 12 different batches of the same braced chicken or something with the spice blend? Or are you just tasting the blend? Like how do you actually iterate and test these blends?
Barkha Cardoz [00:42:40]:
I do both. Because I sit in a space of knowing flavors of what I'm doing. Having cooked for, I don't know what, over 30 years now with those kinds of flavors, you kind of know where it needs to be. So the hardest thing was pulling back the amount of spices I used for the blends. Because I wasn't used to the intensity and the freshness of the flavors that Ethan and Ori were giving me for the raw spices. That was the hardest initially because it was like I just put in and I'm like, Oh my God, this is so strong. And you realize that every spice that you put in carried its own weight and intensity. And so to dial that back and to get those proportions together took the longest of figuring out, oh, the pepper here is just way too peppery.
I have to be careful. Or, you know, the cinnamon is overtaking the whole blend. Once that was done, you know, my sweet sons. They were my guinea pigs. It's like, I'm gonna cook. I want you to try, because I wanted someone that had eaten with us before, or eaten with us before. Or Floyd's food or my food, and tried the flavors and knew what we were doing or had that experience of understanding what it was.
And so the boys had a lot of meals with me. And I'm like, can you just try this? The funniest thing was I didn't realize when we went up to blend them, Ethan and I were standing there. We had blended like 10 pounds of, I think it was the Kashmiri masala. And he told me, can you tell me if this is okay?
And I'm like, I don't know. How are you asking me? And he goes, well, you are the one that's making the blend. And I'm like, I don't know how to taste it. We're in this warehouse, we're in this space where I don't have a pan. I don't have oil. So he literally took water and he blended the masala in it and he goes now taste it.
And I tasted it and I'm like, Ethan, you don't taste masalas like that. And he goes, well, we don't have a choice. We have to do this. And I remember sitting there and just like consciously just closing my eyes and saying, okay, what flavor profiles am I getting? And we tweaked on based on that. And it worked. It worked. So you learn.
Josh Sharkey [00:45:03]:
I love the Kashmir. It's almost like, and maybe it's the same as like a rogan josh kind of blend.
Barkha Cardoz [00:45:08]:
It is very similar. It's got the fennel and it's got all those flavors, the sweetness and the heat, and you know, the spiciness. And that is like one of my amazing favorite ones to use because it blends itself not just to meats, to vegetables, you can do it with, uh, daals, you can do it with stews.Anything you make, it's just that ooph that people don't realize how amazing it is.
Josh Sharkey [00:45:30]:
Yeah, it's really, really, really good. I still think the Garam masala is my favorite, just because I love that flavor profile. Actually, they go on salads really good too. They're all really good. You're carrying it on. Obviously you and Floyd started this and now you're growing it. Like what are sort of the motivations behind continuing this and what's the goal with the brand and the company?
So, when I first started doing this, I think it was just me finding ways to hold onto Floyd. We started with the masalas literally right after he passed, where we continued with it.
So, for me it was, I have him with me, he's alive with me, he's in my kitchen, he's standing there, he's watching me. And for me it was survival. For me, it was just helping me get up in the morning because I have a purpose and I have to get up and do something. And it's something with Floyd, he's not there physically, but I'm still doing it with him.
And that was my driving force initially with the first three, because he and I had worked on those masalas together. We had, you know, started to try them out. So there was a confidence that, ah, I got this because he's there with me. And he showed me the way. When we went to the next lot, there was this feeling of testing myself and testing my own thought process, my experience and my flavors to see if I could do something, or was this just whatever Floyd did.
Because we always lived with this thing of, it was him and me. It wasn't just me. And I wanted to test the waters for myself to see if I could do something on my own.
So the Chaat Masala is all mine. I did it from scratch because I loved my chaat masala. He would tease me that if there was no chaat masala and the house, this lady's not gonna be a happy person. Like I had to put it on everything I ate. I love chaat masala The green tikka. You know, we all love the green tikka.
And I was like, how can we not have that? So we did that. And then vindaloo was something that was on the back burner with us initially, and I just knew that that was a flavor profile I wanted. But what I'm trying to say is going from survival, to just getting through the day, to actually testing myself, to see my own boundaries and to see if I could do that to where I'm now, where it's actually joy.
It's a feeling of accomplishment, not just I can do this and we are doing it together and I'm driving the car and he's sitting at the back, but he's still there in my ear to the fact that it's giving me a sense of purpose. It's a huge purpose because this is not just about the masalas. There's a bigger picture here for us.
So it's giving me the opportunity to meet new people, to teach people about food, to teach people about flavors. It's helping me build a community around myself with people that I would've never had the opportunity to meet. But the biggest thing for me is I'm keeping his legacy alive with paying it forward. I'm given that space to do something bigger than just masalas.
Josh Sharkey [00:48:55]:
That's incredible. And it will. And by the way, that one is delicious. I got the FC chaat masala in the summer, right as we were picking tomatoes from the garden and that chaat masala just with some fresh heirloom tomatoes sauce. Oh my gosh, the best. So good. You know what's funny? We didn't make chaat masala tableau. We bought it
Barkha Cardoz [00:49:15]:
Nobody makes chaat masala because how can you make chaat masala? There's like a standard of chaat ma, and that's all you eat. And so I was so fearful when I was making this chaat masala. I'm like, Floyd's going to come out of his grave and smack me at the back of my head saying, how dare you. I was just pushing myself to say, okay, you need to own this, so do it. Do it. And that was one of the scariest ones I've made because it was all me. But I'm so proud of it because I love it. I love it.
Josh Sharkey [00:49:53]
Yeah. It's delicious and of all the masalas, it's the one that you can just use the quickest if you’re making a salad or something.
Barkha Cardoz [00:50:00]:
there's no thought process. Cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, mango, anything. You don't have to bloom it. Even to finish your daal or anything and you add it, it gives it that little tartness that you're like, ah, I love it.
Josh Sharkey [00:50:14]:
Obviously, you know this, we did a contest with the masalas, with meez my company. And I mean, the outpour from the chefs was incredible. You said to me when we started talking about it like, Hey, let's do a contest and have chefs use the masalas and get it in their hands. And I remember you said to me, I asked you what do you want to accomplish from this?
And you said, you just wanna carry on Chef Floyd’s name. You didn't say, let's sell more masalas. Let's make sure we get all these people under the website. It was to carry on his name. I thought that was just, you know, the noblest and and the best reason to do something like that. And I thought it was incredible.
And our audience of chefs, it was about 15,000, you know, chefs on the meez platform and we were surprised to see the responses. Everybody's so excited to use these spices and seeing them use them in ways, I was even surprised how they were using some of the masalas. What was your reaction like? How did you feel about the recipes that were being created from that contest? I
Barkha Cardoz [00:51:03]:
It completely blew me away because, Yes, we're exposed to food. We eat different cuisines. We, you know, we know how to cook some things, but to see how people took these spice blends, the masalas and ran with it. I mean, yes, I did get the ones that I kind of expected, which were Indian and they were amazing.
They were just stuff that I am like, ah, I forgot I could cook it this way. Or I forgot I could use it this way. But to see others take it and you know, my big thing in life and Floyd's was don't be fearful. Right? Don't draw those boundaries. Don't have those spaces and boxes where you put yourself with a cuisine to see what people did.
Taking their own culture and their own food or their own experiences, and then adding these flavors and marrying them and producing such amazing dishes were just so enriched. And that is, When this contest started and when we started getting all the recipes in coming to the deadline. And every time I'd look at something I'm like, oh my God, Floyd, you must be so proud.
There's one more that actually took from your mindset of don't be fearful, just use them. Just embrace them. And that's what, you know, when we did these masalas, we wanted people to just run with them, not boundaries. Not saying, the only thing you can use them for is Indian food, so I can't buy them. And these recipes just proved that, that we were right all along. That there are spaces for it. You just have to have an open mind.
Josh Sharkey [00:52:46]:
What was so fun for me was like there was this dichotomy between serious professional chefs that were doing things like these desserts that were, and poor Ty chef I know, you know, shout out to him. He would call me like Josh, this recipe has 77 steps and it's gonna take me three days. But they were incredible. Some of the desserts that they were doing with the masalas were incredible. But I think the thing that touched me the most was that mom who made the enchiladas.
I think she made a chicken enchilada with a vindaloo mole. And it was, you can just look at a recipe and be like, oh, that's gonna be good. I know, and it wasn't super complicated, but it was smart. And it was like she could make it quickly and it was delicious. We've made it and Ty made it and I was just like, wow. You know, like this is what is supposed to happen.
You know, like there is someone taking this and using it in a net new way. And I was just like so cool to see, not just like the really, really serious professional chefs, but even the home cooks doing things that surprised me.
Barkha Cardoz [00:53:53]:
It just blew me away because what I took away from it all is you can take different cuisines.And yet you can bring them together to become whole and keep the integrity of both. And that's what they all did. Yeah. How can you not enjoy that? And I wish we would have a place where we could have all of them bring their food and we could have a party with it. Because I know it was just amazing. It was just so beautiful.
Josh Sharkey [00:54:14]:
We'll probably be doing some sort of recipe book or cookbook with that in the meez platform with all the recipes. Well, speaking of that, you're working on a cookbook. Can you talk about that a little bit?
Barkha Cardoz [00:54:24]:
This cookbook is very dear to my heart because I have heard from so many people, I love the spice flavors, but I've used it for one thing and then I don't know what to do with it.
And as Cardoz's Legacy, our big focus is teaching people to not fear flavors. To not fear how to cook with anything to just, you know, own it and cook from their heart, because it just makes your food so much better. And so what I have done is I am working with Jacqueline Raposo, that is this amazing journalist and friend, dear friend of ours for years that did our Floyd Cardoz website.
And she and I have been working where I'm writing recipes down with things that I cook at home, things that are easy to do with different masalas or different things to do. And then she sits, then she does, you know what? People that write cookbooks do, how many spoons of this, is it level?
Don't ask me. I'm just writing a recipe down for you. And she's just like, well, you need it to be perfect for someone that's going to use it to know how to do it if they've never cooked before. So my mindset has changed from taking it for granted that it's my son's cooking, or it's someone I know that knows how to cook that's cooking, but to actually make these recipes simple enough for someone that has never cooked Indian food before, but wants to use the masalas.
And so those are the recipes, things that I cooked at home for Floyd, for the kids, for my family. Just simple stuff that you possibly have never seen on a menu anywhere, because they're too simple. But I feel like our homes need that. So that's what I'm doing. It's about 30 to 35 recipes that we're putting together with different aspects of cooking, whether it's rice or meats or vegetables and stuff like that, you know? Yeah. It's fun.
Josh Sharkey [00:56:33]:
I can't wait. Simple is usually the best. So there's only one spice that I'm afraid of. I don't know how we barely ever use it, but I don't know if you ever cook with the asafoetida. Why did we use this?
Barkha Cardoz [00:56:52]:
You know, it was basically used for when you do lentils or you do your beans, they're hard to digest. So that helps with that a little bit with the gassiness, with vegetables and stuff. But it's also used for cooking for the Janes or the Gujaratis. The Janes don't eat onions and garlic. So really to get that flavor profile, it gives you a little hint of that.
So you use that sometimes, but you have to be very careful with that because if you put too much of it, that's all you'll taste in your dish and you're like, I don't like this. But yeah, it helps with digestion and it also helps when you lack that onion and garlic flavor.
Josh Sharkey [00:57:38]:
It's got quite the potency. Real quick, you mentioned Cardoz Legacy. There's also a scholarship, right?
Barkha Cardoz [00:57:43]:
Yes. We started the scholarship two years ago with our company in India, the Hunger Inc. Samir Seth and Yash. We all didn't know what to do, right? We are all sitting with this mindset of Floyd had two big loves in his life, food and mentoring, and we thought, what better way to pay forward than to help somebody get through cooking school with his legacy, with knowing that, you know, his name and his background helped them.
So we started this two years ago, the first one because it was still COVID. We did a small private dinner and we raised money. We sold tickets for a dinner with our Chef Hussein. Amazing, amazing kid, so talented. He tried to do some of the dishes inspired by what Floyd had done at Tabla. We sold out that dinner with people that ate there, not only paying for their dinner that night, but saying, what else do you need from us to do this?
We teamed up with the cooking school that's in Manipal. It's called Welcomegroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration because most of our chefs and a lot of the staff in Bombay that work with us at the restaurants are from that school. And that school is just amazing with what they do with the kids.
It's a four year course and we have started to put one student through. He just actually messaged me in January. He keeps in touch with me on WhatsApp and he messaged me in January to say he had got an internship in Phuket. He said, I just want you to know I've never been abroad. Even when we did the dinner, we had him flown down from Manipal and that was the first time he'd gotten on a plane.
He'd never been, and he says he's grown up in a home. His mom's a single parent and she works as a housekeeper for someone, and she takes care of her children and to see that we are going to make a change in his life, giving him experiences and teaching him. He shared with me once, he said, ma'am, I have never been in a space where I have so many choices.
The food. I have so many choices, you know, just going into the canteen to have my meals. I have never had this kind of experience or a place where there's so many choices and things we take for granted. So I feel like that is what we are going to do every year. We're going to build on it. It's been hard for the past couple of years just because of COVID and the restrictions of what we can do.
We do an event around Floyd's birthday in October, early October. October 2nd is Floyd's birthday, that we tend to do a fundraiser then and that money, and then whatever other donations we get. And we're going to keep doing this for as long as we can because it will make a difference.
Josh Sharkey [01:00:57]:
Well, is there a way, how can people help?
Barkha Cardoz [01:01:00]:
I can get details and give it to you where we can, you know, people can make donations. There is a link that I will get from the restaurants in Bombay, in Floyd's Honor that we have set up, that if you can't attend, you're welcome to donate towards it. Because when you see someone talk to you like that and tell you like, you know, my family is going to benefit from this and I'm going to carry, and he said to me, he said, I never met Chef Floyd and I wish I had, but just remember everything I do. I will always think of him, but what better way to honor the man that loves to give and mentor.
Josh Sharkey [01:01:30]:
Yeah, absolutely. You started FC Masala to carry on Chef's Legacy and obviously now you're continuing it really to grow, you know yourself and I think so much has changed for you in the last couple years. Obviously, I think you've talked to me about, you know, trying to live more in the moment, finding joy. What's next for you now as you're sort of moving this brand forward and this next phase of your life and your career?
Barkha Cardoz [01:02:05]:
I started out living my life with Floyd, with what does Floyd need next? What does he need me to do with him? Then he was gone. It was a reality check to realize that I hadn't even looked inside me to see who I am and what I do, because I was so caught up in stuff in the future, in life, in the kids, and we all do that because that's the way life, you know, pulls you in different directions. When he passed, I was so sad and so upset that he was just 59 and he was gone.
And I think sitting with that for quite a while, I realized that he was only 59, but he lived 59 rich years in his life. He lived every day in the moment, Josh. There was not one day when Floyd didn't get up with something to do or something that he needed accomplished. And no matter what the day before had brought to his plate, every day was a new start.
Every day was exciting, every day was okay, today we start, we get a clean slate. I'm starting over. And it's not just that he said the words, he lived it. I heard him, I saw him do it, but it never registered in my head. After his passing, I realized that yes, he did only live 59 years but look at what all he did with himself as far as not just accomplishing, being in the restaurants, getting his name out there, but just as a human being.
He was present for all of us. He was present for the family. He was present for himself. And there was not one day that he had a regret of. I think his only regret was that there weren't enough hours in the day. He lived it to every moment. And I have started to do that for myself where I'm not getting distracted by stuff and things, but more about moments and people and experiences of being here, being present.
I want to be there because life's unpredictable. And what else do we have other than ourselves to hold accountable to say, I'm here today. So I'm doing a lot of that and in that I've realized that we need to showcase one another. We need to live for one another. It's not just about what am I doing next for myself and where am I going from here?
Because I don't take anything for myself, but I can leave a legacy behind. And we see that with Floyd. So I've started to pay more attention to people around me, women around me that are entrepreneurs, that are starting out, that are young, that are older, that are doing stuff. And I want to showcase them in whatever limited way and space I have.
Because I feel like we need to own our own. We need to own our spaces. As women, we don't have that big space. We don't have a lot of people pushing us forward or helping us do more. And that's what I want to do. I wanna make sure that I'm holding hands with everyone around me and showcasing them.
And moving them forward in my own way, in my little way that I can do, because I feel we all need to do that. We owe that to one another. And the biggest thing is paying it forward. We have to leave this world better than we got it. We're doing it through the masalas. Every jar we sell a part of it goes towards a charity that we pick: charities that were close to Floyd and my heart with kids, with education, with women, with cancer. We did a lot for people in India when, you know, the second variant came around and there was chaos in India, and I know people lost families and women lost their breadwinners in the house and helping them start small businesses again. We did all that. So I feel like that's important to me and that's what I'm going to keep doing.
Josh Sharkey [01:06:08]:
Well, it's incredible. Yes, Chef created some incredible blends, but you are carrying this forward, I think, probably even more successfully than you had thought in the beginning. It's so clear whenever we speak and I think anybody who meets you like your graciousness and like how much you care, that carries through to the spices and you can't have a successful company if you don't have a really clear mission.
It doesn't matter how good the product is if you don't really have some sort of values and vision that you can promulgate to the people around you and to your team, it will never really grow. And I think that's for sure something that you have. I remember you and I were at Chef Kunz funeral, well not the funeral, but a ceremony that we had with a number of chefs.
And I never had real closure with Chef Floyd on some things that we sort of went back and forth on. I always thought he was disappointed in me for leaving the fine dining world to open up a fast casual restaurant. And we never really had a chance to talk about it. And you didn't really have to talk to me about that, but I think you understood even better than Chef how he really felt and why he felt that way.
And there was like this light that was shining like you clearly care so much and you want to spread this love. And I'm excited to see how you're putting that into this company that you're building now and everything else that you're doing. Because I think you're just getting started.
Barkha Cardoz [01:07:32]:
I hope so. I always said, I don't know what I wanna be when I grow up. And we say that, right? We say that a lot because it's like oh, I don't have a job that I'm doing that I love, or I'm not making enough money that I want to make, or I haven't shown up or I haven't gone up the rungs on the ladder. And I always felt like I was always missing the mark.
I had never done anything that was my aha or my thing to show off. For lack of better word, because we always validate ourselves with accomplishments. So for me, it was so hard because I'd always look at Floyd and say, you got to do all this. The way you are. And look at me, what am I? And he would laugh and tell me, he says, you are a glue.
You keep us together. And I'm like, everybody does that. You know? Which mom doesn't do it, which wife doesn't do it? And he goes, but for us, you are ours and you are important to us. And I was like, oh yeah, that's your way of pacifying me because now you don't know what to do with me. Because I'm like in the space.
I've only realized why I didn't do anything then, because I was getting ready for this and I was getting set up for this. And this is my grown up moment. And my grown up moment is about being conscious, being here. And making sure that I do more to keep this alive because it's not the money. It's not, like you said, how many masalas I sell.
Of course I wanna sell more masalas because that's what's going to help us get to where we want to get. But the bigger goal is to make it better for others around me because we have the capacity. And yes, I carry Floyd's name all the time and I talk about him so much. And I was just asked recently, like, how do people react to it?
And I'm like, I don't care. I don't care. This is my life. This is who I am. And it gives me joy, it gives me solace, and it gives me purpose. So as long as I can do that, I'm going to keep saying his name and hopefully others around will take it for what it is and help us make it better. But I cannot not acknowledge that none of this would be possible without these amazing human beings.
All of you around me, Ethan and Ori, and Jacqueline, I think the three of them have held my hand when I didn't know what I was doing and if I could get out of bed. And they've made it a reality and I'm so grateful to the three of them. Yeah.
Josh Sharkey [01:10:21]:
Well, it's incredible. And like I said, you know, you're just getting started. You have so much more. So I'm excited to see, you know, you talked about talking to other women founders and entrepreneurs and just people in general. Is there anybody right now that inspires you or mentors that you have that are sort of guiding you along the way?
Barkha Cardoz [01:10:38]:
My biggest inspiration is my children. They have literally shown me how to take a situation or a space that was so hard. And as a dear friend of mine says, we live in an upside down world when something like this happens to us. And they have shown me how they've taken that upside down world that was just thrown at them and turned it around and stood tall with dignity, with grace like Dad would have.
And Dad taught them by everything he did and they just showed me the way. As far as women and business is concerned, I think the one person that holds a lot of space and I just met her, is Asma Khan, the chef from London. And I spent three days with her at the Welcome conference because we stayed at the hotel and she didn't know her way around in New York because she hadn't been in New York for a while, and things changed.
So she and I were sharing Ubers there and spending the day together and coming back. Listening to her talk about, you know, just being another human being that loved to cook and not having the space or not knowing if that was something she could do. But not only has she done that so amazingly with such pride and without compromising on her food, but she's aware that she has a place in the world where she's honoring the women that came before her that did it and just did it at home.
And she's honoring the people who are with her. These are mainly women that are immigrants in London that have not cooked on a professional level, that are cooking with her, have learned she's helped them build their homes and get secure. And she's doing it for the future generation that's going to come beyond her because she says that, how can I not leave them inspiration? And that to me sat so strongly to say, it doesn't matter where you are, you have that space if you are aware of it and you want to do it. And she inspires me all the time.
Josh Sharkey [01:12:59]:
I love that. Well, thank you for sharing that. Is there anything you would want to tell you know, the audience or your friends or your colleagues, anything that you'd like to leave us with?
Barkha Cardoz [01:13:13]:
The biggest thing I'd like to say is thank you. Because I wouldn't be where I'm sitting if it wasn't for everybody. And I don't mean it just the women in my life for my family, but for everyone. But people like you, Josh, that didn't know me but knew me as Floyd's wife. You knew of me. I cannot even begin naming people to put a list together because there is no list.
It's an endless role that goes on and on that will never end. And if it wasn't for the love that we got, and we still get, that still shows up on my doorstep in different ways every single day. I don't think I would've ever gotten out of bed because I had to show up. I had to show up for myself. I had to show up for my kids, but I had to show up for all of you that showed up for me because A. you didn't know where to go or you wanted to show up because you knew we were hurting.
And I cannot even absorb. And thank everybody for that. So I'm grateful for that, and I'm like, we're going to have some fun going forward. We're just gonna have a lot of fun.
Josh Sharkey [01:14:21]:
Well, that's for damn sure. Thank you, Barkha. This was incredible. Always a pleasure to spend some time with you, and I hope we can chat again really soon.
Barkha Cardoz [01:14:36]:
We will. We will. Thank you.
Josh Sharkey [01:14:45]:
Thanks for tuning into The meez Podcast. The music from the show is a remix of the song Art Mirror by an old friend, hip hop artist, Fresh Daily. For show notes and more, visit getmeez.com/podcast. That's G E T ME E Z dot com slash podcast. If you enjoyed the show, I'd love it if you can share it with your fellow entrepreneurs and culinary pros and give us a five star rating wherever you listen to your podcasts.
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