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Chef Edouardo Jordan of @JuneBabySeattle is diversifying Seattle’s food scene and proving how high-brow southern cuisine can be - one dish at a time. Watch more of Uncharted: Seattle at VISITSEATTLE.tv.

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Transcript

- To be awarded and recognized as a three-star chef, it put me on a pedestal I didn't think that I could ever be on. But I knew that it was an opportunity for me to educate people on the history of Southern food, what it's rooted in, as a cuisine that is basically the basis of American cuisine. I am Edouardo Jordan, chef of Salare, Junebaby, and Lucinda Restaurant here in Seattle, Washington. In 2018, I was awarded two James Beard Awards. One for Best Chef in the Northwest for Salare Restaurant. That was my first restaurant. And then also 2018 Best New Restaurant for Junebaby Restaurant. I was truly taken back, because not many people get that opportunity to win one award. To win two awards it's pretty much over the stars, but for the body of work that both of my staffs were doing, it let them know that we're equally doin' the work that I envisioned and we're all doin' it together. Now we're pushing the boundaries and opening up the door for a lotta other chefs in Seattle to be seen and be noticed and recognized for the body of work that they're actually doin' now. Seattle's becoming so diversified in the entire food scene and also the landscape of people that are here. We now have people from all over the country living here in Seattle, as we are one of the fastest-growing cities. That opens up the door for Seattle not to be the same old city that it was before. When I moved here to Seattle, I was a young cook still with a big dream. I knew that Seattle was gonna be a place for opportunity. As one of the fastest-growing cities, there is a lot of wealth and a lot of technology and a lot of opportunity to actually present what I grew up on but at a professional level. When I actually moved here there were about five or six well-known chefs that pretty much ran every big restaurant in the city. And when I came about, I've served as a big entity in the city of diversifying the food that is actually here. I knew I wanted to be rooted here. I knew that I could build a foundation that will set the tone for my future. The neighborhood that I settled in, in Ravenna, just north of the university, has been extremely supportive. We've been highlighted everywhere and it's just been amazing that we are here as a neighborhood restaurant. My foundation as a cook started in the kitchens of my mom and my grandmother. Southern food is my home. That's what I grew on. And that's all I knew. When I had ventured off to go to culinary school, I often cringed that I forgot about the food that I was rooted in. Now I get the opportunity to actually present the foods that actually got me into the kitchen. Most of my food is sourced within a 50-mile radius. Most of my restaurants work with five or six farmers that pretty much tell us what we're gonna serve. They let us know what's in season. They let us know what is gonna be grown for us. Their livelihood depends on people buyin' their product, and then we kinda build our menu on what's comin' up. Seattle is pretty well-known for their seasonality and sustainability. And we have our beautiful seasons. And you get to experience Seattle on different levels. For me, the bounty of food that we have, it's a wonderland. What do you like eating for breakfast? - Hmm, bacon. - You like bacon? Are you gonna cook some bacon for me? Yeah? My son is born and being raised here in Seattle, Washington. Many miles away from where I grew up and fairly different cuisine from what I grew up on. What I really enjoy is now my son is introduced to the foods that was part of my childhood. And now it's part of his childhood. And it's kind of a legacy that's not gonna be forgotten that I can introduce him to foods that people would probably never ever have here in Seattle, like chitlins and cracklins, and variations of different dishes that I ate when I was a kid. I think a lot of people here in Seattle aren't that familiar with Southern cuisine, and then there's the half of the population that actually migrated here from different southern cities. They are being reunited with the foods that they remember from their mom and their aunts and their grandmothers. - The French toast is good. - [Edouardo] It looks good? - Mm-hmm. - I think Seattle is becoming more open-minded about opening the door for many people to have opportunities here. The challenges that I face and that are unique to my story is the fact that I'm an African-American chef. Trying to find the funds to actually open up my first restaurant was pretty daunting. It was like, where do I go and where do I start and who's gonna give me an opportunity? And you know, that's what a lot of people of color kinda face when they are tryin' to open up or start their own venture. And I got very lucky that the bank that actually supported me was very familiar with the work that I was doin' prior to opening my restaurant. They believed in me and they said, I'm gonna give you a chance. And here I really believed in Seattle and they actually believed in me. Winning two James Beard Awards, beyond like one James Beard Award, is an inspiration for a lotta people that are going through the same struggles that I went through as a young cook. I'm very passionate about seeing my team grow and the leadership that they are gaining from me. Watching them now train the next set of leaders that come into my kitchen. It's buildin' a team that can believe in the dream and the philosophies that I have. By helping diversify the food scene here, I'm provin' that a black chef can be as talented as any chef, and that's why you call me chef. For me, I invited a bunch of my friends to actually help build a network. I invited chef Carla Hall in to cook with me, and a lot of chefs of color, writers of color. We are so separated, and we're trying to connect each other. Seattle has always been a big tourist city, and now we're attracting so many different people comin' over from across the country to experience Seattle for many different reasons, and one of the reasons is for the food. I'm doing my job of connecting myself to those who are doing the same thing that I'm doing. And also giving the opportunity to showcase the diaspora of Southern food. Because Carla cooks somethin' different than I cook. Might cook somethin' different than another cook may cook in Kentucky or Tennessee or whatever the case is. When we talk about Southern food, it's a miseducation and now I'm educating people of how highbrow Southern food can be and how lowbrow it is also. I'm just proud to be a great chef here in Seattle.