Up, Up Upma! Indian chef wins $100,000 prize in New York!


Upma is sometimes derisively dismissed as “fertilizer” by snobbish foodies.

But in the hands of the New York’s celebrated chef, Mumbai-born Floyd Cardoz, the unpretentious upma shot into international culinary limelight on Wednesday. Asked to prepare an item based on food memories, (or dishes that inspired them in their lives), in the final of the much-watched Top Chef Masters contest in Los Angeles, Cardoz whipped up an upma of semolina and mushroom to beat two other favorites and win the top prize of $ 100,000.

But it was the personal food memories section that Cardoz upped the ante with upma, which critics loosely described a semolina pudding, or an Indian version of the Italian polenta.

“In the end, Cardoz impressed because of the spice and passion that infused his final meal of the season,” Wall Street Journal food critic Charles Passy said, “(He) won by doing exactly what he does at Tabla – that is, honoring his Indian gastronomic roots and finding a way to reinvent his native cuisine at the same time.” One of the judges, Saveur magazine editor James Oseland was quoted as saying, “You cooked a meal that was deeply skilled and very, very memorable.”

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