By Paul Schlienz


It was a big night for Seattle chef and restaurant owner Edouardo Jordan. On May 7, Jordan took home two impressive wins from the prestigious James Beard Awards.

Jordan won both the medal for Best New Restaurant in the U.S. for his JuneBaby eatery, specializing in Southern cuisine, and the prize of Best Chef: Northwest for himself.

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“Awards and recognitions are definitely things that I appreciate, that I’ve worked hard for,” said Jordan, who also owns Salare, a restaurant that combines Southern, African, European and Caribbean influences in its cuisine. “And I’m appreciative that I’m being recognized, and my staff is being recognized, because I can’t do this on my own.”

Jordan is the first Black chef to win the Best New Restaurant honor in the award’s history. While his cooking is deeply personal, he never forgets its deep roots in the Black American experience from Africa to slavery to the present day.

In Jordan’s words, “Southern food reflects hard times and resourcefulness and is nothing short of beautiful.”

JuneBaby’s website, in fact, includes an encyclopedia defining terms like “Africa,” “African-American” and “African diaspora,” so guests can learn this history before they enjoy Jordan’s award-winning cuisine.

“It became almost like an obligation, almost a responsibility for me as an African-American chef to actually explore and educate [about] home Southern food,” said Jordan. “It became a deeper mission … trying to pass that knowledge along to people as they want to learn — as they want to eat.”

Jordan also does much to give back to the community, Growing up poor and having experienced childhood homelessness, Jordan contributes much to  nonprofits like Northwest Harvest and Seattle’s FareStart, where the homeless and other disadvantaged people gain working experience in restaurants.

As Jordan accepted his awards, his mind was very much on the future and on his son, whom he addressed in his acceptance speech.

“I love you to the moon and back — and this award is for you,” he said to his son. “And I want you to dream big, my little star. We’re making history tonight, and daddy wants you to know that if you can dream it, you can achieve it. And the future is yours, but don’t forget the past.”

To learn more about Edouardo Jordan and his JuneBaby and Salare restaurants, check out the following DineNW radio podcasts where he was interviewed: