Burlap & Barrel
Burlap & Barrel

The Floyd Cardoz Masalas are Here ✨

Email sent: Oct 4, 2020 12:11pm
We've all been on a journey this year. For us, part of that journey was losing our friend, mentor, business partner and global icon Chef Floyd Cardoz. We're honored to announce the release of the Floyd Cardoz legacy masalas today.
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Floyd Cardoz Legacy Masalas

The Floyd Cardoz Legacy Masalas are Here

We've all been on a journey this year. For us, part of that journey was losing our friend, mentor, business partner and global icon Chef Floyd Cardoz.

We're honored to announce the release of the Floyd Cardoz legacy masalas today. Ethan shares more about the origin of these blends, his decade-long friendship with Chef Floyd, and how we're working with Barkha Cardoz, Floyd's wife and business partner, to carry his legacy forward. All of that's below.

But first, let's introduce you to the masalas.

We know you’ll love these three spice blends - they’re Floyd’s recipes, so of course you will. Each one represents a different period in Floyd’s life, and a different flavor profile, and gives you a glimpse into the complex, beautiful diversity of different Indian regional cuisines.

Goan Masala: This is Floyd’s family recipe, savory and pungent with loads of turmeric, black pepper and cumin. He grew up on this masala, and then he and Barkha raised their sons Justin and Peter on it, making coconut-based curries of tender chicken and vegetables.

Kashmiri Masala: This blend is the result of his travels and education as a young chef, and the revelation of tasting Kashmiri chilis with fennel and ginger for the first time - it’s spicy, rich and surprisingly sweet, perfect for grilling and stewing.

Garam Masala: This one is a classic. There are as many variations of this blend as there are cooks, but this version is the one Floyd developed in his famous restaurants. It’s uniquely sweet and aromatic, with a base note of star anise and the bright fizz of cardamom. Garam masala is at its most fragrant when added into the pot at the very end of the cooking process. Turn off the flame, add the masala into the pot, and let the aroma fill your kitchen.

We hope you love the blends, our first-ever blends, made from our single origin spices, and blended by hand by us and Barkha.

When you cook with them, think of Chef Floyd's legacy and how we can carry the torch forward. And please use #FloydsFoods when posting about them.

Get the Floyd Cardoz Legacy Masalas >

A portion of the proceeds from these spice blends will benefit Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a non-profit that Floyd cared deeply about and was involved with.

We also have a limited number of bundles that include Floyd's cookbook about spices, Flavorwalla, signed by Barkha Cardoz.

You can get them here:

Get the Masalas + Flavorwalla (book signed by Barkha Cardoz) >
Floyd in the Kitchen

Floyd Cardoz Masalas: Over a Decade in the Making

A note from Ethan

We began working on these spice blends with Floyd and his wife and business partner Barkha in the spring of 2019, and it’s been our honor to complete it on his behalf. 

The seed for these blends was planted much, much earlier.

The story behind these beautiful new blends started a decade ago when I took a job at Floyd's famous Manhattan restaurant, Tabla. I'd been the pastry chef at a small restaurant on the Lower East Side, which had closed on very short notice - after a regular dinner service one night, they called the next morning to say that the restaurant wouldn't be opening again.

I could have applied to work at any of NYC’s 25,000 restaurants, but I knew that I wanted to work at Tabla. Floyd was revolutionizing fine dining in New York City, presenting Indian ingredients and culinary techniques in a brand new way. I had cooked with spices before, but it wasn't until I cooked at Tabla that I started to understand the extent of their magic.

On my first day at Tabla, I was given a huge bundle of chives to chop as finely as I possibly could. I was set up with a cutting board on a wire shelf at about waist-height, so I had to bend over awkwardly while I was trying to slice the chives. I was chopping chives, wanting to make a good impression on my first day, when Floyd walked past me. He paused only for a split second, listened to my knife cutting through the chives, and gently let me know: “Your knife isn’t sharp enough.”

In his kitchen, he taught me to cook with spices I’d barely heard of before. Amchur, kokum, hing, chaat masala and curry leaves became part of my daily routine. Tabla was the best restaurant I’d ever worked at, and I learned a level of kitchen discipline that I’d never experienced before. My daily prep list was so long that I had to sprint around the kitchen for my whole shift just to be able to get everything done in time.

Floyd’s standards were high, not just for food itself but for everything we did in the kitchen (including keeping our knives razor sharp!) He cared deeply about provenance and sourcing, knowing (as I then learned) that well-sourced ingredients always taste better. Neither of us could have realized it at the time, but he was pointing me down a path that would lead to Burlap & Barrel.

After leaving Tabla, I moved to London for graduate school and then on to Afghanistan, where I worked for a nonprofit, monitoring school and hospital construction projects in the rural, mountainous northeast of the country. It was there that I first tasted zeera Badakhshani, our wild mountain cumin, and started bringing it home in duffel bags to share with my friends in the New York restaurant business.

When I decided to pursue this crazy single origin spice company idea, Floyd’s new restaurant was one of the first places I stopped by. He was cautiously supportive, and we talked about how hard it was, even for him, to get the high-quality spices he needed.

Over the next few years, we saw each other more and more often - I’d take friends to his restaurant for dinner, or we’d run into each other at culinary events around the city. One morning in May 2019, I got an email asking me to stop by the restaurant for a chat.

He’d been thinking about launching a line of masalas for a long time, and was finally ready to get started … with us! It’s hard to convey how honored I was at the opportunity to work with him again, not to mention that a global authority on spices wanted to partner with us on his first foray into the spice trade. 

Over the next several months, Floyd, Barkha, Ori and I worked closely together to choose the first masalas to launch, fine-tune the recipes, and scale them up for our first production run. Floyd’s original recipes were for single-servings of each masala, calling for three cardamom pods, four cloves, and two inches of cinnamon, so we had to scale them up several thousand times to get to the quantities we needed to produce enough jars. By February, we had finalized the recipes.

Floyd, Ori and I all traveled separately to India later that month. Ori and I were there on a sourcing trip to spend weeks meeting current and potential partner farmers from Kerala to Arunachal Pradesh, while Floyd was going for the opening of his new mithai restaurant, Bombay Sweet Shop. It had been many years in the planning, and in classic Floyd Cardoz-fashion, had been meticulously planned and spectacularly executed. The food was gorgeous; creative versions of classic Indian sweets from across the sub-continent.  

As we all know now, the world was about to change. We cut our trip short when India began closing internal borders. Before we left, we were lucky enough to visit Bombay Sweet Shop on its opening day, and to spend a few hours with Floyd. He was giddy with excitement, showing us around the restaurant and telling us all about the specific regional and local techniques and ingredients behind the wide world of Indian sweets. We discussed the next steps for the spice blend project, made plans to meet again in a few weeks, and the next morning, he flew home to New York.

I found out that he had passed away when a friend sent me a link to an article. It was March 25th, and New York City was the global epicenter of the virus. I had already recovered from COVID myself (although I didn’t know that at the time.) I was at the Union Square Farmers Market, helping a friend run his farm stand, with a crew of out-of-work chefs, all volunteering our time to help keep our favorite local farm afloat.

We mourned together in the rain, surrounded by the bustling market. That someone as healthy and energetic and full of enthusiasm as Floyd could disappear so quickly was literally shocking - I couldn’t stop shaking all day. The memory still makes me cry.

A couple of days later, on the day of Floyd’s funeral, Barkha texted me. The masala project had to continue, she said. Floyd had dedicated his life to sharing his love for Indian spices, and she wanted to take it up herself. The masalas would serve as a living memorial to his legacy, keeping him in people’s hearts and their kitchens. 

Barkha, Ori and I recently traveled to our production facility in upstate New York, where we personally hand-blended 1,000 pounds of spices to make the masalas. It was an exhausting few days, but deeply cathartic to have finally made the blends that we’d been talking about for so long. 

It’s been an incredible honor to partner with Barkha, to have had the opportunity to work with Floyd a second time, and to be able to complete this project on his behalf.

This is just the beginning, and we've got a lot more work to do. Floyd left us with a long list of masala recipes, and we plan on releasing more Floyd Cardoz legacy spices over the coming year. 

If you want to learn more about Floyd, see his recipes, get his cookbooks, please visit FloydCardoz.com

If you'd like to try the masalas:

Get the Floyd Cardoz Legacy Masalas >

Want more spicy goodness?

Hi, it's Ori, co-founder of Burlap & Barrel.
I write our newsletters along with my fellow co-founder Ethan.

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