Shannon Renfroe/Courtesy of Edouardo Jordan

At his latest Seattle restaurant, Edouardo Jordan dives deep into his Southern past

By Chris Hughes

Some might say Edouardo Jordan's path to culinary stardom—ditching a budding corporate career with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to enroll in culinary school, flying from Florida to California to knock on the window of The French Laundry and ask for a job with his idol, chef Thomas Keller—is nothing short of miraculous. Jordan says, "You have to make your own miracles."

When it comes to writing his own story, Jordan is relentless. Within a two-year window, he opened two Seattle restaurants: Salare (2015) and JuneBaby (2017). This May, both concepts were recognized with James Beard Foundation awards—Best Chef: Northwest for Salare and Best New Restaurant for JuneBaby.

Salare's sophisticated menu nods to Jordan's training in some of the best kitchens in Florida, California, New York, and Italy, while JuneBaby, he says, "goes deeper into [Southern food's] African roots." In addition to delving into his own family's repertoire of dishes, Jordan traveled to mom-and-pop joints across the South, picking up bits of culinary history and tradition that not only influenced his cooking, but also were compiled into a Southern and African gastronomic encyclopedia that lives on the restaurant's website.

For JuneBaby's Seattle clientele, and even for dyed-in-the-wool Southerners, there's a little education in every bite—Nigeria's rich history with catfish, for example, or the relationship between grits and the West African dish eba. At JuneBaby, those two ingredients come together in a classic Southern combination, utilizing Geechie Boy grits from South Carolina. "When you ask the average person what Southern food is, they'll default to fried chicken," Jordan says. "If I was going to do this type of cuisine, I knew I wanted to show a different side of it."

Related: The Ultimate Fish Fry

Meet Edouardo

Age: 38
Hometown: St. Petersburg, Florida
Experience: The French Laundry, Per Se, and Lincoln (New York); Bar Sajore (Seattle)
Early career: Started an online Tampa Bay-area restaurant database called Tamburg
What's a JuneBaby? Jordan's father's nickname

Photo: Jennifer Causey; Prop Styling: Lindsey Lower; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer

Make His Recipe

Edouardo Jordan’s elegant take on a Southern classic—Parmesan grits matched with garlicky spinach and delicately fried catfish—is a great entrée into the culinary vision that has earned the Seattle Chef (JuneBaby, Salare) every accolade under the sun. Accessible, yet sophisticated, Jordan’s approach shows a different side to Southern cooking.

Get the recipe: JuneBaby Fried Catfish and Parmesan Grits