It is rare in the restaurant world to see the genuine camaraderie that is visibly evident in the three men who run one of Mumbai’s best restaurants, The Bombay Canteen. Floyd Cardoz, Sameer Seth and Yash Bhanage are responsible for reviving the local flavors of this iconic city with a twist in the palate and undeniable heart. While the city has waxed eloquently about their food and service, we took to discussing with the trio their personal style.
BSC: What led you to food, and opening The Bombay Canteen?
Floyd Cardoz (FC): I love to eat, and that’s where it all started! But it was actually a novel – Hotel by Arthur Hailey, that influenced me profoundly enough to change careers. And the in hospitality school, I realized I was great at cooking too.
It was my love for Indian food and passion to do something here that led to opening The Bombay Canteen here. I wanted to make a difference, not with a fine-dine, smoke and mirror space, but with something I could connect to and be proud of, a mutual feeling that the three of us shared!
Yash Bhanage (YB): As Chef said, our passion for the city and its local cuisine united us. While he delved into the food, it was the service and hospitality aspect which interested me. Growing up, I was fascinated with restaurants – our family’s monthly outings had a great impact on me. About three years ago, Sameer and I saw the need for food that had a social and cultural context to the city. Since all of us really connect with Bombay, it was the undisputed choice – as was the thought of bringing back the seasonal ingredients that people were not using, with a dash of fun!
BSC: What’s your typical day at work like?
FC: I wake up early, 6 – get my coffee, come in and touch base with everyone in the kitchen. The kitchen is prepped since we start tastings early. We stop for lunch and meet with the guests. Post that, the three of us sit down for meetings. Since I come to Mumbai every three months, we figure the game plan for the next quarter.
Sameer Seth (SS): My typical day at work when Floyd is around is to first make him a cup of coffee early in the morning! (laughs) Usually, there’s no set routine per say. A restaurant’s a place where different things are happening on different days and we have a great core team that has taken over the daily on-goings here. Yash and I coordinate our mornings on the basis of what needs to be tackled through the day, and are usually here till lunch service.
YB: My routine depends on the date and month since there are some schedules that need to be followed. We always try to be a part of team briefings which happen thirty minutes prior to service. We discuss the guests coming in, specials for the day, along with staff training. Post lunch operations, I try to make time for an hour’s workout – it’s always good to get refreshed. We then sit down with key people for further discussions for the week, month, menu changes etc.
BSC: What does style mean to you? What influences your sense of style?
SS: Style is something you are comfortable in, not influenced by any exterior factors. As simple as that.
YB: For me, it’s different when you’re dressing for work, and dressing socially. The hospitality industry has these sartorial must-do’s, eg. Managers are supposed to dress in a certain way and so on. We have managed to change that at TBC with a uniform of T-shirt and sneakers. This creates a sense of comfort and accessibility, which I feel is very important.
FC: Being in the kitchen all day in whites, I always like to feel different coming in and leaving work. I like to dress up when I get in – a button-down shirt, trousers and good shoes make my outfit. My style also changes seasonally. I won’t say I am stylish, but I like wearing well-tailored clothes.
BSC: How does your sense of style infuse your work and vice versa?
YB: It absolutely does. My home was my office for the initial, ‘start-up’ phase of the restaurant, and the dress code involved little more than T-shirt, shorts and chappals. Sameer and I would dress up depending on the meeting’s we had scheduled! It helps being presentable.
BSC: Your usual attire on a regular day at work, at a client meeting and off-work dressing.
SS: At work, it is usually a T-shirt, denims and loafers for me. The T-shirt gets replaced with a well-fitted shirt for client meetings.
FC: For me, it is always a Polo or a shirt, never a T-shirt!
SS: It’s a generational thing…
YB: T-shirt, denims and sneakers.
BSC: The one thing piece of clothing/accessory you always like to wear to work.
FC: My watch.
SS: Shoes, a comfortable loafers or sneakers like Adidas.
YB: Fun and quirky sneakers!
BSC: Do you think what you wear at work impacts your performance?
FC: I strongly believe that! But it also depends on one’s personality and who you are as a person.
SS: It boils down to the comfort factor again – if you’re not comfortable with what you’re wearing, you will not be as productive and effective. Especially in a business like ours, what we create, the guests we serve and the way we serve them is a reflection of our own personalities in some way and if you take someone out of their comfort zone, they are going to be uncomfortable and guests pick up on that. It’s the ripple effect.
For the readers of The Bombay Post, the trio shared recipes of their favourite tipple at TBC.
- Turmeric Infused Gordon’s London Dry Gin – 30 ml
- Smokey Single Malt Whiskey – 8 ml
- Lime juice – 30ml
- Sugar Syrup – 25 ml
- Orange Bitters
- Egg White – 1 no
- Soda – top up
Dry Shake the egg white in a cocktail shaker, add rest of the ingredients and shake with ice. Pour in a highball glass filled with ice and top up with soda. Lime slice as garnish
- Jim Beam Bourbon – 45 ml
- Sugar Syrup – 20 ml
- Lime Juice – 15 ml
- Egg White – 1 no
- Cabernet Sauvignon – 5 ml
Dry Shake the egg white in a cocktail shaker, add the bourbon, lime juice, sugar syrup and shake with ice. Pour in an old fashioned glass filled with ice. Gently pour the red wine over the back of a spoon held just above the drink’s surface so wine floats on top
- Old Monk – 45 ml
- Lime Juice – 30ml
- Ginger Syrup – 10ml
- Angostura Bitters – 3 dashes
- Ginger Ale – To top-up
Garnish with mint sprigs and a lime