Chef Edouardo Jordan of JuneBaby and Salare in Seattle grew up in St Petersburg, Florida, where his mom and grandma set him on his path of loving food and cooking for others.
“My grandma’s home was really an outlet for the community. She was always cooking something— Friday meals, Sunday suppers, organizing a church fish-fry— always cooking, and always bringing people together. This was my first intro to food, and the impact and power it had over people. Whether it was drama, trouble, a birth, a death, a wedding, or anything else— whatever happened, that togetherness around her food made people happy. That was my first lesson in hospitality.
I was always asking my mom questions about food.
"So at one point, she put me to work doing small tasks. Her giving me kitchen duties definitely blossomed into an actual love of cooking. We do oxtails on the menu at JuneBaby as an homage to my mom. One of the best things about it is that the same aromas that filled my house and I can remember as a kid— they fill my restaurant now.
My son Akil is 5 now. I have the privilege to expose him to foods outside of anything I experienced as a child.
"I didn’t have octopus till I was 26 years old, but Akil will try it, no problem. My son gets to see and know about all of these things. I want him to be bigger and better than I could ever be, and it’s all about exposure. That’s very important to me. We go to the farmer’s market together, and he’s exposed and introduced to different foods, but also to the farmers and the other people behind everything. When a farmer gives him a carrot to chomp on as we wander around, he knows where this food came from. Someone grew it, someone gave it to him, and I can see that he appreciates it. That’s important to me too.
Exposing kids to food— it’s like the first words that they speak.
"There are so many doctors and psychologists who say don’t baby talk with your kids, don’t babble with them— talk to them like young adults and have an actual conversation with them. I think about food the same way. Treat them like little adults and their food language as they get older will be broader and more powerful.”