Yesterday, we chatted with North End Grill’s Floyd Cardoz about his new Battery Park City restaurant and his old one, Tabla, in Madison Square Park. Today, we touch upon the ever-evolving nature of restaurants then delve in to the world of reality television, Top Chef Masters, and the PBS show that chef Cardoz would like to put in place.
Have you been back to the Tabla space? To La Mar Cebicheria Peruana?
No, I haven’t.
Since North End Grill opened on January 5, how has the restaurant evolved?
Our menu has changed a little bit. We figured out that when people come in for lunch, they want to be in and out pretty quick. We also realized that people want to eat early, so we set up our reservations so that instead of 7, 7:30, 8, 8:30, 9, we have 6, 6:30. And it really gets very full very early. We had to adapt what we were doing to make that work.
You’ve worked with Danny Meyer for quite a while. If you could eat at one of his restaurants, besides your own, for every meal for a month, which one would it be?
Oh, boy. That’s a very tough question. I would eat at Tabla.
I think I would go to Maialino. That would be my choice. Maialino has a bunch of things on the menu that can cater to all of the tastes that I want to have: offal, pasta, seafood, pork. That’s why I’d choose that place.
You definitely shined on Top Chef Masters. Did you enjoy that experience?
I enjoyed the experience being that I got to hang out with some talented people and get to see how they worked. The only thing I didn’t enjoy about it is that as a chef, you’re always in control, and being on television, you’re not in control. I’d say the first part of the show is when I had the hardest time because you don’t have the control, but as soon as I realized what it was, I was able to adapt, and then it became a lot easier for me. Then I started enjoying myself.
What was one of your favorite challenges?
You know, Restaurant Wars. I think it was one of the first challenges. I think that was great because I got to see how the chefs really are and what they do. George Mendes, he was the expeditor that night, and I’ll never forget that every time I’d call in an order, he’d say, “Yes, chef,” and I said, “Hey, why are you calling me chef?” And he said, “You’re leading the service, you’re the chef, and that’s what I’m going to call you,” and that was pretty tremendous to see. It showed what kind of person he is. He’s so amazing, and that’s what made it really enjoyable to me.
Do you think that reality television is a good place to make a name for yourself within the cooking world?
It depends which show it is. I have some favorites, and I have some . . . well, I’m not going to go there right now, but I think that if the show is done tastefully and shows the chefs as what they are, then it makes a lot of sense and it’s good. I just don’t think that using extreme eating and those types of things are good for the food business. Those are the things that I don’t really like about reality TV.
Any more television appearances planned?
I’m working on something with the Cooking Channel. It’s not my own show, but I’d love to do PBS because I love cooking and I love teaching people about food. I think that as a chef you have a voice and, as long as it’s tastefully done in my style, I’d be happy. One of the things that I was happy about with Top Chef Masters was that they showed me for who I was.