Top Chef Masters winner dies from coronavirus complications

Renowned chef and Top Chef Masters winner Floyd Cardoz died on March 24, 2020, at age 59 due to complications from the coronavirus, his Hunger Inc. Hospitality Group confirmed to People. The tragic news came on the heels of Cardoz's health update shared March 18, 2020, when he posted a selfie from a hospital bed in New York. "I was feeling feverish and hence as a precautionary measure, admitted myself into hospital in New York," he wrote at the time, while also revealing he was "hugely anxious" about his health. Cardoz, who was born in Bombay, India, and owned several restaurants in New York City, passed away at Mountainside Medical Centre in New Jersey, People reported.

Following the news of Cardoz's death, countless fans and celebrities alike posted tributes in his honor. One of those mourners is Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi, who penned a heartfelt message about the restauranteur's accomplishments and kind spirit. 

Padma Lakshmi eulogizes her "dear friend"

Chef Floyd Cardoz won Season 3 of Bravo's Top Chef Masters in 2011 and seemingly formed a friendship with Padma Lakshmi during his time on the show. Lakshmi paid tribute to this relationship in an Instagram post shared March 25, 2020, writing, "I am beyond saddened to wake up today and hear the news of my dear friend @floydcardoz's passing. Floyd made us all so proud." She also acknowledged one of Cardoz's greatest culinary accomplishments, opening the famed Tabla restaurant. "Nobody who lived in NY in the early aughts could forget how delicious and packed Tabla always was," she continued. "He had an impish smile, an innate need to make those around him happy, and a delicious touch. This is a huge loss, not only for the professional food world but for Indians everywhere. My heart goes out to his wife Barkha and their whole family. RIP."

Bravo also released a statement to People, praising the chef's powerful legacy. "He was thoughtful, kind and his smile illuminated a room," the network said. "He was an inspiration to chefs around the world and we offer our deepest sympathy to his family and friends."

Cardoz isn't the first Bravo alum to pass away in recent years — Top Chef alum Fatima Ali died at 29 in January 2019 from Ewing's sarcoma.

Floyd Cardoz appeared on TV shortly before his death

Floyd Cardoz, who authored two cookbooks in addition to his culinary achievements, worked on a new show before he fell ill and died of coronavirus complications. Cardoz had traveled to India for an episode of Netflix's Ugly Delicious, hosted by fellow chef David Chang. The show explores popular dishes across the globe, and the Top Chef Masters alum was interviewed about Indian specialties alongside actor Aziz Ansari. "On location with@azizansari while shooting @uglydelicious season 2 in India," he captioned a shot with the comedian. "Glad we get to tell the story of our passion with Indian food. Thanks @davidchang for letting us crash this party!" The episode featuring Cardoz aired on March 6, 2020.

Chang paid tribute to Cardoz on Instagram, stating, "Heartbroken over the loss of Floyd Cardoz to COVID-19. Rest in peace Floyd...we will carry on your beautiful legacy. #tablaforever #bombaycanteen #sonofgoa." 

As of this writing, Ansari hasn't commented publicly on Cardoz's death.

Floyd Cardoz was passionate about his craft

Being a chef wasn't just Floyd Cardoz's job — it was his passion. "I love being a chef and would not do anything else in my life," he told Union Square Hospitality Group in 2013. He brought up love again when discussing his advice for aspiring chefs, explaining, "My philosophy in life is good food and cooking is not only how good the food tastes and looks, but also how good it makes you feel cooking it and how good the guest feels eating it. Always cook with passion and with love."

Of course, Cardoz had a life outside of his profession. "I enjoy cooking, baseball and football (watching that is)," he told the company. "I also love to garden and my passion is vegetable gardening. I love to travel. I enjoy the process of seeing peoples' cultures and enjoying their food. I also try and get in some fishing time as when I'm close to the water, it reminds me of my time growing up in Bombay."

The chef was also passionate about his wife, Barkha. "Mentally we were on the same level," Cardoz shared during an interview with radio show Love Bites in 2017. "We connected on a lot of things. We were two foreigners in a strange land, who had come as immigrants with nothing in our pockets ... we were going through the same things at the same time."