9/11 Remembered: Floyd Cardoz

Over the next few days, we'll feature the personal stories of several chefs from New York City and around the country to see what they went through on that morning 10 years ago, and how 9/11 has affected them as people and as chefs.

Floyd Cardoz is a Top Chef Masters winner, former Executive Chef at Tabla and Executive Chef at North End Grill, Union Square Hospitality Group's forthcoming restaurant.

Where were you and what happened on the morning of 9/11?

I was driving in to Tabla from New Jersey on Route 3. I heard on the radio that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. I kept on trying to reach the restaurant, my sous chefs and my wife and I was unable to get in touch with anyone.

Then the first building collapsed. I was stunned and started to cry. I ran to my car and decided to go pick my kids up from school. I wanted them with me. Once I returned home with the kids, my phone started to go crazy with all my friends from India calling me to find out if I was safe.

How did the aftermath affect you, both professionally and personally?

I realized the team at the restaurant was my family. I hugged each and every one of them that day. I heard about all the food service workers who had died that day and it made me cherish my staff even more, something that defines who I am today.

My team at Tabla started cooking for rescuers and sending food down to the shelters. I realized that I was an American and something bad had been done to my country. I had an even greater appreciation for the freedom and tolerance we have as Americans.

Tabla was hit with hard times. Our sales plummeted for the next couple of months. Then one day we received a care package from the staff and owners of Canlis restaurant in Seattle. The crew's morale was lifted by this kind gesture from people we did not know. I came to the realization that day that the one thing that would always be a part of my life was a commitment to giving back to the community.

More memories from September 11: