An unfortunate news struck the restaurant and hospitality industry on March 17, when Hunger Inc’s culinary director and the co-founder and co-owner of The Bombay Canteen (TBC), O Pedro and Bombay Sweet Shop, Floyd Cardoz uploaded a post on Instagram late in the evening, where he shared an image of him admitted in a hospital in NYC. “Yup got my ass kicked by Covad19 Ten Days and counting…[sic]” the post read. However, in a matter of few hours, the post was taken down.
After midnight, on March 18, another post went up from the TBC Instagram account announcing that chef Floyd was admitted into a hospital in New York with a viral fever and that his condition was being monitored closely.
Chef Floyd, who until recently was associated with the Bombay Bread Bar – which is now shut – is based out of New York City and frequently shuttles between NYC and Mumbai, to oversee new launches and mentor the team here. On March 1, chef Floyd along with the TBC team, hosted the 5th anniversary party, where several close friends from the F&B and media industry were invited for a close-knit party. Soon after, on March 4, chef Floyd was in action as Hunger Inc launched their new contemporary sweets boutique called, Bombay Sweet Shop, in Byculla. Several folks from the F&B industry, journalists, bloggers and other media professionals were present and met the chef during this span of time.
Just a couple of days after, on March 7th, the chef attended a press conference hosted by a new culinary outfit, which entailed a meet-and-greet at The St Regis, Lower Parel, with chef, Mauro Colagreco, who is at the helm of the world’s number one restaurant, Mirazur. Colagreco was here for a special dinner, taking place later that same evening. We remember exchanging a brief-but-pleasant interaction with chef Floyd on March 1 and 7, before he could fly back to New York on March 8.
Having noticed the social post from his account on March 17, which is no longer publicly available, we reached out to Hunger Inc’s team to understand his condition and to gauge whether his condition posited a risk to those who came in contact with him through the first week of March, including us and another colleague of ours. This was a necessary step amidst the current Coronavirus outbreak that has disrupted world economies and has been declared as a critical health hazard by the World Health Organisation (WHO). With government advisories on social distancing, awareness and flattening the curve being the need of the hour, we were concerned about finding out this vital information as a precautionary measure. However, we were informed that chef Floyd was down with viral, and that he was being tested, but it was not confirmed if he had Coronavirus. We were also told that the test results were expected only after a week.
To corroborate this statement further, a while after TBC’s post on March 18 went up, another post from chef Floyd’s account went live. It had an image of the chef and a note apologising for having created panic and speaking preemptively.
A day later, on March 19, soon after midnight, we received a call from one of the co-founders, who personally informed us that chef Floyd’s test results had arrived and that he was tested positive for COVID-19. We were advised to take all precautionary measures, like practicing self-quarantine and staying alerted for symptoms, stating they received chef Floyd’s results an hour prior. However, we did not receive any official communication from them. The team also shared that they were making the effort to call up all those that were in contact with chef Floyd to inform them duly of his condition. We wish the chef a speedy recovery and commend this effort, but aren’t sure how many people the team can actually manage to track down considering this is going to have a chain effect.
As of March 20 - approximately 40 hours since they had got the confirmed news - Hunger Inc had not made any official announcement sharing the news on their social media to rectify the post, which stated chef Floyd was down with viral fever – a mandatory step, considering this is vital information that can have direct impact on a number of people.
When we reached out to the Hunger Inc team for a quote before publishing this story, we received the below response: “Floyd Cardoz (59 years), currently admitted in hospital in New York, USA, tested positive for COVID-19 on March 18, 2020. As a precautionary measure we have informed the Health Department in Mumbai about the same. We are also reaching out personally to people who have interacted with him during his visit to India, so they can take necessary medical advice should they indicate any symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) and/ or self-quarantine. Floyd Cardoz flew back to New York from Mumbai via Frankfurt on March 8, 2020,” Hunger Inc., spokesperson.
Seeing the insidious nature of the COVID-19, a zoonotic virus that is on the verge of bringing the planet to its knees, and the measures that need to be taken, the only thing truly in our control is how prepared we are today. We urge you to stay safe and share important information that you are aware of to tackle this pandemic and take care of your near and dear ones.