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Seattle chef cooks other people’s food as a way to introduce his own

Seattle chef Edouardo Jordan at his restaurant in Ravenna, Salare.
KUOW Photo/Caroline Chamberlain
Seattle chef Edouardo Jordan at his restaurant in Ravenna, Salare.

This week, we explored what it means when a white chefearns a reputation from cooking the food of people of color.

Here in Seattle, we met a chef who had the opposite problem.

Edouardo Jordan is an African-American chef who learned how to cook French and Italian food, partly because he thought the fine dining world didn't take Southern food, the food he grew up with, seriously.

“When you look at the hierarchy of cuisine, it was always the French cuisine, the Italian cuisine, and African cuisine was lower on the hierarchy in a sense. And so I thought as a young culinarian that I needed to be on the top of that hierarchy to make a name for myself,” he told KUOW’s Bill Radke.

Today, Jordan owns the acclaimed restaurant Salare in Seattle's Ravenna neighborhood.

With his menu there, he’s managed to hold on to aspects of the food he grew up cooking and eating.

But, he’s combined Southern ingredients and flavors with high-end French techniques he learned while working at The French Laundry and other fine dining institutions.

He talked about how his Southern upbringing helped develop his culinary voice, even though he felt many of the ingredients were looked down upon in mainstream American culture.