Lunch service is over at North End Grill in Lower Manhattan and executive chef Floyd Cardoz is remembering a Christmas Day when he was 8.
Three children came to the back door of the family home in what was then called Bombay. They were begging for money.
“My father sat them down in the kitchen and fed them before the family ate,” said Cardoz, 52. “I don’t remember many things from my childhood, but I always remember that.”
Nowadays Cardoz, winner of the Bravo network’s “Top Chef Masters” in 2011, gets regular requests to help raise money by cooking at charity events. Tomorrow night, he will return as a guest chef at the 14th annual BNP Paribas Taste of Tennis at the W New York hotel in Midtown Manhattan.
The event, which coincides with the start of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, attracts sports fans, bankers and tennis stars such as Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Jelena Jankovic and Monica Puig.
A portion of Taste’s proceeds will go to the James Beard Foundation, which provides scholarships for culinary students.
“Floyd was one of our first chefs to do the Taste of Tennis,” said Penny Lerner, chief executive officer of AYS Sports Marketing, which produces the event.
Cardoz, who studied culinary techniques in Switzerland, will serve a watermelon salad with lime zest and fried capers. About 30 other chefs will participate, including Red Rooster Harlem’s Marcus Samuelsson, Barbuto’s Jonathan Waxman, Marc Murphy of Landmarc and Taku Soto of Nobu 57. Samuelsson, the featured chef, will do a cooking demonstration with Williams.
Since joining Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group in the late 1990s as a chef at Tabla (which closed in 2010), Cardoz has donated his time to several culinary fundraisers, such as Groove With Me, which teaches underprivileged girls dancing, City Harvest and the culinary mentoring program C-CAP. He went to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to support Share Our Strength.
Cardoz also has raised more than $1 million to build homes for the children of prostitutes in Calcutta. Some of the kids were featured in the 2004 documentary film “Born Into Brothels.”
He also raises money for cancer-related charities -- his father died of lung cancer -- and autism-related nonprofits. He gave his $100,000 Top Chef prize to the Young Scientist Cancer Research Fund at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in honor of his father.
He started the Young Scientist Foundation with Goutham Narla, an assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, his wife, Barkha Cardoz, and Analisa Difeo, a researcher and instructor at Mount Sinai. Its goal is to help young U.S. students interested in the sciences work alongside accomplished researchers. Before pursuing a career in hospitality, Cardoz wanted to become a doctor.
“If you find a way to show people how to give, it helps make everybody else’s life better,” Cardoz said.
(The Taste of Tennis is tomorrow at the W New York hotel, 541 Lexington Ave. in Manhattan from 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $275. Information: http://www.tasteoftennis.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org).
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