The Untold Truth Of Edouardo Jordan

When you think of great restaurant cities in the U.S., Seattle might not be the first place that comes to mind. But it's definitely on the list. The fast-growing city has seen a restaurant boom in the past 15 years, according to a 2020 Seattle Times article. Seattle routinely makes "best foodie city" top 10 lists, for example at U.S. News & World Report and WalletHub.

The chefs name-dropped by Food & Wine and others as pioneers of Seattle's current restaurant scene include Tom Douglas, Matt Dillon, and Ethan Stowell — three men who were in the right place at the right time as Amazon and its thousands of Seattle employees grew their wealth. (Chef Renee Erickson and her James Beard Award ensure that Seattle's top chefs aren't just a boys' club, per Erickson's website.) Recently, Edouardo Jordan — who spent time working for Dillon — added his name to the pantheon of Seattle chefs with his enormously successful restaurants Salare and JuneBaby, according to StarChefs. Jordan is a chef who was inspired by his grandmother and who wanted to do more than make good Southern food, per The Seattle Times. He wanted to educate his clientele about Southern food's role in American history, too. The food media loved Jordan, and the dining public did, too.

That goodwill evaporated instantly, however, after The Seattle Times published an investigation in June 2021, detailing claims by 15 women that Jordan had sexually harassed them.

Edouardo Jordan's passion for food led him to open his own restaurants

Edouardo Jordan didn't choose food. Food chose him. As a child growing up in St. Petersburg, Florida, Jordan was drawn to cooking whenever he was at his grandmother's house, but he went to college to study business and sports management (via StarChefs). That led to a desk job with Tampa Bay's Major League Baseball team. "But I couldn't sit behind a desk," Jordan said. "I was cooking a lot at home, and food kept calling."

He graduated with honors from Le Cordon Bleu in Orlando and eventually landed an apprenticeship at the legendary restaurant The French Laundry. There, Jordan found what would become one of his specialties: butchering and meat curing. He also trained in Parma, Italy, one of the centers of the salumi universe.

Early in his culinary career, Jordan had worked with chef Matt Dillon at a restaurant called The Herbfarm in Woodinville, Washington. He used that connection later to get himself to Seattle. He worked at Dillon's restaurants Sitka & Spruce and then Bar Sajor. At Bar Sajor, Dillon gave Jordan the keys to the kitchen, literally, naming him head chef, according to a 2018 Seattle Times article.

Next, Jordan took the leap and opened his own restaurants: Salare in 2015, per Eater, and JuneBaby in 2017, according to his StarChefs biography. Rave reviews followed.

Restaurant critics raved over Edouardo Jordan's restaurants

As The Seattle Times tells it, the name of Edouardo Jordan's first restaurant, Salare, was inspired by a butcher in Parma who would instruct Jordan to season his salumi by saying "salare, salare." The Seattle newspaper raved about the restaurant: "Jordan's moment is now," its critic beamed. Salare's menu demonstrated the chef's mastery of charcuterie, southern cooking, African and Caribbean ingredients, and refined French techniques.

The New York Times dropped by Jordan's second Seattle restaurant, JuneBaby, shortly after it opened a couple of years later. While Salare reflected Jordan's fine-dining training with its Italian and French fare, JuneBaby had more of his grandmother in it. The New York Times practically swooned over JuneBaby, giving it three stars for "excellent." The critic praised the Black Southern dishes other chefs have been known to shun: pig's ears, hog maw, and chitterlings. That last menu item — the pig's large intestine — was a signature item of sorts on JuneBaby's menu (the restaurant is "temporarily closed"), and you can still find "Chitlins" sportswear on the JuneBaby website.

The New York Times critic concluded by saying that dining at JuneBaby went beyond good eating. It was a meaningful taste of American history.

Edouardo Jordan earned national recognition

A three-star review in The New York Times was far from the pinnacle of chef Edouardo Jordan's career. For starters, Jordan was named Eater Seattle's "Chef of the Year" in 2015 and one of Food & Wine's "Best New Chefs" in 2016 (via StarChefs). Seattle Magazine was pleased to include Jordan among its "Most Influential People of the Year" in 2018, noting that he was maybe "the most buzzed-about chef in the country" and lauding him for raising the profile of Black chefs, who are underrepresented in the industry.

Jordan's stature was so enormous in 2018, The Seattle Times deemed it newsworthy to write a day-in-the-life article that followed "one of America's hottest chefs" as he walked his dog and watered the plants in front of one of his restaurants. Then came Jordan's peak. The James Beard Awards are often referred to as "the Oscars of the food world" (via CultureMap Houston). If that's the case, Jordan in 2018 would be like a precious few famous Hollywood actors, winning two James Beard Awards in the same year. He won Best Chef: Northwest and Best New Restaurant in the country for JuneBaby, according to FSR. Jordan gave an eloquent acceptance speech, thanking the giants whose shoulders he stood on: Black chefs and James Beard winners Patrick Clark, Nina Compton, Marcus Samuelsson, and others. Separately, he acknowledged Seattle chef Matt Dillon for giving him his first opportunity to run a restaurant after feeling that he had been overlooked earlier in his career.

15 women accused Edouardo Jordan of sexual harassment

Edouardo Jordan surprised his followers on Instagram on June 8, announcing Salare would soon close permanently due to COVID-19. But something much more serious was percolating at the same time. Two days later, Jordan gathered the staff of Salare and JuneBaby to let them know The Seattle Times was about to publish an article about him (via Eater Seattle). This time, it wouldn't be a puff piece. Jordan vaguely told his employees the article would be about "bro culture stuff" and "flirting." Three days later, when it was published, one employee told Eater Seattle the staff felt "blindsided" by what they read.

The Seattle Times article told the stories of 15 women who claimed Jordan had sexually harassed them. The accusations ranged from inappropriate comments to groping and unwanted kisses. One woman, a line cook, told the newspaper she followed Jordan from Sitka & Spruce to Bar Sajor, even though she said Jordan had already touched her inappropriately at a party. Her situation illustrated the dilemma for many of the women working for Jordan, according to the Seattle Times: They thought they needed to stay on the star chef's good side or risk losing their own career opportunities.

"He was my mentor. I would not be as strong of a cook without his guidance and qualified instruction," the line cook told the Times. "But there was this other monster you had to deal with."

Edouardo Jordan apologized on Instagram twice

Another woman, who claimed Edouardo Jordan had groped her, told The Seattle Times the incident put her "in a very weird emotional position" because as a white woman, she didn't want to say anything to jeopardize the career of a successful Black chef. "I wanted to support him as an entrepreneur, as a Black chef, as a public figure who spoke up and out about uplifting Black chefs," the former employee said. This was a complicated dynamic within several accounts of Jordan's inappropriate conduct toward women from 2012 to 2017, according to The Seattle Times.

On the day the Times' article came out, Jordan posted an apology on Instagram that was quoted by FSR at the time. Jordan said, "I'm deeply sorry if my conduct ever offended anyone or made anyone feel uncomfortable." He also denied many of the accusations in the article, adding, "I have worked hard to ensure that such conduct has no place at any of my restaurants."

Three weeks later, the apology had been deleted, and Jordan posted a second apology that acknowledged the shortcomings of the first (via Restaurant Hospitality). He referred to his "personal and professional weaknesses" in the second apology, while saying he hoped the industry would leave the door open for him. "I am optimistic and hopeful that the community I served will in time welcome an evolved me back," with new practices in place to "provide a better culinary experience, one that inclusively empowers, inspires, advances, elevates, and, more importantly, protects." This apology also disappeared from Jordan's Instagram account.

Edouardo Jordan faces an uncertain future

Edouardo Jordan's position in the public eye has shifted after 15 women accused him of sexual harassment (via The Seattle Times). The Daily Beast reported that Jordan was edited out of the finale of "Top Chef" Season 18, which aired July 1 — less than three weeks after the Times published its investigation. On "Top Chef," Jordan had been one the guests trying the dishes created by the finalists.

Most of the staff at Jordan's two restaurants quit immediately after the Times article, per Eater Seattle. Salare was going to close permanently anyway. On September 27, the JuneBaby website said only that the restaurant was temporarily closed.

Jordan still gives food lessons on Instagram, including a post about Guyanese pepperpot. When a commenter showed up on a different Instagram post in September to remind Jordan of the accusations against him, he suggested they mind their own business, saying, "I heard the longer you entertain what's not for you the longer you postpone what is for you."

There have been no reports so far that the accusations leveled against Jordan have led to any legal actions. There's also no indication he'll work in a restaurant kitchen anytime soon.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).