Floyd Cardoz Floyd Cardoz

Floyd Cardoz always came up short when facing Mary Sue Milliken on Top Chef Masters, but in the end, he won the one challenge that matters. "I went into the last challenge with the least amount of money. I only had $10,000. I was thinking, 'It would be sweet if I could squeak this one in and make $110,000 for my charity [Young Scientist Cancer Research Fund at Mount Sinai Medical School].' And I did!" he tells TVGuide.com. "So that felt pretty good!"

But the chef, who's working on a Danny Meyer restaurant, insists he never picked himself for the Masters title.

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What do you think secured the win for you?
We all had positives and negatives. For me, I had two negatives. One was that the fish was overcooked. I know that Gael Greene likes her fish almost raw. But to me, I was like, "OK, but I'm cooking for everyone else too." The second was that the rice flakes were a little tough. I was a little disappointed by that, but they were very, very positive about the broth, which I think won over the rice flakes.

How did you get stuck in traffic so badly?
We were given a list of places we could buy ingredients from, like butchers, fishmongers and ingredient places. They were spread all over the L.A. area. I did not know L.A. that well, so I think I chose the wrong ones. It was up to us to figure the route and which stores we want to go to first. I wanted to get oxtail because I felt [the rendang] would stand out with it. James [Oseland] didn't really want oxtail and I wanted to prove a point that oxtail is a meat that is underappreciated and could work really well. So the places I chose made us go to areas that were not very close, so I made a huge mistake. And it was raining and you know what happens to people when it rains — they forget how to drive. I kept asking the driver, "Can we go another way?" I think we had five hours to shop and cook that day and I lost two and a half hours.

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