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Food, With a Side of History: Chef Edouardo Jordan Explores Black History Via Southern Food

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Food, With a Side of History: Chef Edouardo Jordan Explores Black History Via Southern Food

The Seattle chef’s new restaurant, JuneBaby, offers cuisine rooted in Afro-culinary traditions.

February 17, 2017

Chef Edouardo Jordan’s restaurant Salare, located in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood, features a blend of fine French, Italian and Southern cuisine. Jordan is the first African American to be named A Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine and has also been featured in The New York Times.

This 36-year-young chef has been praised in particular for Salare’s Southern-African cuisine, which draws on his family’s southern roots. Now Jordan is getting ready to open his second Seattle restaurant, JuneBaby, which will focus on the historical roots of southern food, including the African slave diet.

Opening in late February, JuneBaby will be conveniently located just a quick walk down the street from Salare.

We sat down to take a closer look into what drives and inspires this young, successful chef.

You’ve been a huge advocate for Southern-African culture through the food you create. What led you to pursue this path?

I started cooking with my mother and grandmother in the kitchen. My grandmother was a "diehard" Southerner who influenced me very much from the start with Southern cooking.

When I decided to cook professionally, mainstream told us to cook French cuisine, so that’s what I did — Southern cuisine wasn’t the route [to success]. I worked in some of the greatest restaurants in this country and also spent some time in Italy. As I was learning more, I felt more comfortable with Italian cuisine, because it related more closely to my Southern background. From there, I kept on coming closer to my roots where I started off.

My first restaurant, Salare, is the representation of my journey, built on French, Italian and Southern cuisines.

Your new restaurant JuneBaby is said to “tell a historical journey of the migration from Africa to America through the story of food.” What kind of food will be on the menu to convey this historical journey?

JuneBaby is named after my father [his childhood nickname]. Some of the most important dishes on the menu will feature the staple ingredients of slavery itself, from peas, rice and corn to grains.

For example, many African slaves were targeted due to their knowledge for growing rice. They were brought over to America to grow rice on the shores of South Carolina and Georgia. Rice is one of those staples that takes a lot of resources and knowledge and grows in treacherous, swampy areas. Many Africans who harvested rice suffered from diseases, like malaria. They lost their lives to make Americans rich due to the knowledge they had. I wanted to take a moment and highlight rice in my menu for JuneBaby.

What do you hope to achieve or inspire in the Seattle community with your restaurants featuring diverse cultural cuisines?

I’m not trying to be the next Martin Luther King for food. That’s not what I got into this industry for. For me, the biggest thing is to bring good food, but It’s also about teaching. Teaching myself, teaching my staff, and teaching the people who actually want to eat my food. Southern cuisine has had a negative reputation for many years, and I think that’s because people aren’t really educated about what real Southern food is. That’s the lesson that I am trying to teach — opening people’s perspectives and eyes to real Southern foods.

What kind of chef do you aspire to be?

That’s a difficult one. I don’t brag about myself because I’m a humble person with a very humble background. I want to be the chef that my crew and my team look up to. I always make mistakes and I’m always learning from these mistakes, and I want my team to know that they can do the same. One thing that I’ve learned as a chef is to find my own voice. And so, I guess my goal is to help my cooks to find their own voices.

Who was the biggest influence in your life?

Definitely my mom and my family. I’ve seen so many struggles and hard times with my family and I knew that I wanted to do more. This knowledge was the sense of motivation that pushed me to challenge myself.

Make your own version of neck bones at home! Chef Jordan has provided a bare-bones recipe for Southern-style corn bread and pork neck bones that you can jazz up and customize to your own palate. 

Get the recipe! 



Jen Germain

Jen Germain is a media producer with the Creative Services team at Cascade Public Media, helping to drive brand and programming initiatives. Previously, Jen worked as a producer with Spark Public, where she helped lead digital strategy and mentor a team of millennial multimedia journalists. Find her on Twitter @jengermain. 

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Abby Shalawylo

Abby Shalawylo is Spark Public's freelance social media producer/talent. Abby is a senior at Seattle Pacific University majoring in communications with a theatre minor. She is a Disney College Program alumni and currently works at CenturyLink Field for the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders FC games. A few of her favorite things include musicals, movies, chocolate and getting to know people.

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Gabriela Capestany

Gabriela Capestany is a freelance producer at Spark Public. She is a sophomore at the University of Washington pursuing a double major in cinema studies and communication with a minor in Danish. She’s also the co-director of HuskyCreative, a student-run UW ad agency.  Her main passion is film and her movies have been featured in film festivals around the world, most notably the Los Angeles Film Festival. When she’s not interning or at school, Gabi enjoys bouldering, biking, and traveling the world (21 countries and counting!)

Fun Fact: Her favorite kind of film is Scandinavian film. She just got back from studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark where she spent five months learning Danish and biking around the city.

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Anran Lin

Anran Lin is a marketing and communications intern for KCTS 9. She is a junior at the University of Washington studying journalism and entrepreneurship. A Chinese native who grew up in Greece, Anran speaks three languages — Chinese Mandarin, English and Greek. She has a passion for broadcast journalism, food, travel and acting. Visit her website at and her Instagram at anranlin.

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