Mumbai-born Cardoz whipped up an upma of semolina and mushroom to beat favorites Mary Sue Milliken of Los Angeles's Border Grill and Traci Des Jardins of San Francisco's Jardiniere, despite never winning a quickfire challenge.
Cardoz often came in second place to Milliken, who won four elimination challenges during the course of the Top Chef Masters Season 3 finale contest in Los Angeles.
"I was totally shocked and surprised," Cardoz told Bravo channel, after being declared the winner.
New York-based Cardoz said that as a chef he was used to be in control but entering the competition took control away from him. "That was the hardest part of me," he said.
Cardoz, who used to work for Danny Meyer Indian restaurant Tabla which closed in 2010, said that good food is about "how you feel and how your guest feels." The finale began with the chefs being tasked to create a three-course meal of a lifetime based around food memories.
The first course had to be inspired by their first taste memory, while the second was to represent what inspired them to become a chef. For the third course, each chef was paired with one of the judges, who tasked them with recreating a memorable dish from their past, the Examiner.com reported.