Edouardo Jordan

Chef & Restaurateur

Edouardo Jordan knows you can’t understand food without understanding where it came from. Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida, he first learned about Southern cooking in his grandmother’s kitchen. He waffled between becoming a doctor and working in sports, but the call of the kitchen was too great, so he enrolled in culinary school. This set him on the trajectory to pass through the doors of such prestigious spots as California’s French Laundry, and New York’s Per Se and Lincoln Restaurante.

Today, the two-time James Beard Award-winning chef has three Seattle restaurants, each an ode to his roots. Salare is a nod to his formal chef training and the African diaspora. JuneBaby, named after his father, is an homage to the Southern food his grandma Meggie used to make. Lucinda Grain Bar, named after his sister and great-grandmother, focuses on heirloom grain dishes. Edouardo was the first black chef to receive a three-star review from The New York Times in 20 years. But he’s not jaded. If anything, he’s working harder to make his voice heard in the culinary community.

Why We Love Edouardo Jordan

“The future is yours, but don’t forget the past.” That advice to his son, from his James Beard acceptance speech, captures everything we admire about Edouardo: passion, family roots, looking forward yet never afraid to look back.

“I know I can achieve anything I want to do. If I decided to be an astronaut 20 years from now, I’m going to be a damn astronaut and I’m going to walk on the moon!”

“It’s important to know the good and the bad about the landscape of America. And American food was built on the backs of a lot of people who made the best out of nothing.”

6 Questions with Edouardo Jordan

  1. What do you remember about cooking with your mother and grandmother?

    I remember there were really no recipes. Cooking traditional foods, food they were familiar with, spices and classic Southern ingredients. One of the first dishes I truly got from my grandmother is her pound cake. She never had a recipe for it, so I just sort of had to spend time in the kitchen to capture it. I think one of my favorite dishes from my mom was this stuffed shrimp with crab—or vice versa, depending on what we got the most of. That was kind of our luxury splurge every once in a while.

  2. Why do you believe the history of our food is so important to know?

    If you think about American cuisine, and in particular Southern food, it’s always been looked down upon or considered inferior. But when we stop and actually look at the history and the deep truth of Southern food, you realize it’s the foundation of American cuisine, if America has one. There are so many influences that make whatever we call American cuisine American cuisine and how everyone touches each other in terms of our backgrounds.

  3. What was the most difficult or rewarding food item to research?

    Probably chitlins. If you’re not familiar, it’s pretty much hog intestines. It’s a dish I grew up on. I remember telling kids what it was, and they made fun of me that I ate that. So, I think going back and appreciating what they are for the good and bad touches me, and I really highlight that on my menu and talk about that. It’s important because foods like that make who we are. Chitlins were an intimate part of growing up, and taught me to have thick skin and appreciate my food even more.

  4. You don’t want to be labeled as a ‘black chef.’ But your food is so deeply rooted in black history. How do these ideas coexist?

    JuneBaby is recognized as a quintessential Southern restaurant with deep roots. So, that’s why I created Salare first, to show that I am a culinarian. And there aren’t any adjectives or prefix in front of my title. I want everyone to think about it like they’re going to see an engineer or architect or doctor. You don’t say, ‘I’m going to see that black doctor.’ It’s just, ‘I’m going to see that doctor.’ You do that by being who you are, showing you’re a professional in the culinary world, and that’s what I did.

  5. What does travel mean for you? Has it been an important part of your own growth?

    I like understanding people, and I think the more we travel and expose ourselves to situations and places that are different, these experiences open up our perspective of life and opportunity. You just have a better appreciation for people and society. Especially if you travel to places that are meaningful to you—a beach vacation is not the same as building cultural connections.

  6. What gets you the most excited about your upcoming trip in Morocco?

    North Africa is a new idea for me, because when I think of Africa, it has always been West Africa, where most likely my family ancestors came from. Over the past five or six years, when I opened the doors to my own restaurant, I was able to explore what North Africa looks like and what East Africa looks like, the influences the spice trade, of the Spaniards, French and British on North Africa. You have this whole melting pot of history and religion and culture there. And that's what I'm looking forward to learning more about. I want to experience the culture, the colors we see, the spices we taste. When you think about it, the South and Morocco are both so deeply rooted in their food, there’s so much soul to them. The African influences in Southern cuisine, the spices and traditions. You open your mind to a whole world by just being out and seeing people and appreciating the deep history.

Morocco with Edouardo Jordan

One Departure Only | March 17 - 25, 2022

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