Interview with Seattle Rising Star Chef Edouardo Jordan of Salare

by Sean Kenniff
December 2015

Sean Kenniff: How did you get into food and cooking?
Edouardo Jordan
: Food has always been an important part of my life, no matter what; whether it was cooking at my grandmother's house, or family gatherings, food was always center point of life. Although, I didn't always think I'd own my own restaurant. I thought I'd be a doctor, but that changed in college. I studied business and sports management, and did a lot of cooking, for girlfriends. After college I started working nine to five with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. But I couldn’t sit behind a desk. I was cooking a lot at home, and food kept calling.

SK: How did you eventually end up in Seattle?
EJ:
My wife is from Seattle. I reached out to Matt Dillon, whom I'd met at The Herbfarm, and landed a job as sous chef at Sitka & Spruce, and then as chef de cuisine of Bar Sajor.

SK: Have you had a mentor in your career?
EJ:
Definitely Chef Jonathan Benno. I appreciate what he taught me, his style of teaching, and his style of food and how he talked about food.

SK: Jonathan Benno can be an intimidating presence.
EJ:
Talk about the New England Patriots, and he’ll warm up to you.

SK: How do you describe the style of cuisine at Salare?
EJ:
I'm embracing ingredients that we have here. Like, there are no blue crabs here. Dungeness crabs are the next best thing. I like creating a decadent dish without using super decadent items, and utilize every part. [In the dining room] I want guests to get in there and get dirty. That’s the environment I want
get loud, get happy here. We're working on our pasta program and expanding it, making more approachable and seasonal. Seattle is a very family-friendly city.

SK: How do you describe the culinary community here in Seattle?
EJ:
The community here is still growing. Seattle was a B market compared to New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. There's opportunity for us to grow and get better, to inspire and support each other, and promote our city.

SK: What do you think the biggest challenge is facing your restaurant?
EJ:
Right now, nurturing the slow growth of this restaurant. I'm chef and owner, balancing books, watching costs, training people, getting pulled in 900 different directions. It's about more than just cooking now. Staff are coming from less militant backgrounds. You have to be a little careful about how you do things, times are changing. This is an open kitchen, and you can’t be loud. I try not to compromise and double check everyone. I train people in the kitchen to have the same mentality and sense of urgency as I do. I want a balanced life. I want to be able to go to my son's baseball game.

SK: What do you think about the $15 minimum wage?
EJ:
The $15 minimum wage is scary. I agree that cooks have been underpaid forever, and I support increasing their pay. But servers getting $15 an hour plus tips
where is the balance there? Where is the cap? Do we work with fewer people on the floor, increase menu prices, let people off earlier? People are still gonna eat out no matter what. We’ll figure it out. Restaurants in big groups have a lot of backing and resources, and they can pull from a lot of areas. We don’t have a lot of cushion. What if we have a slow week?

SK: What's your plan for the future?
EJ:
I think about it all the time. I definitely want to explore more opportunities, like the cured meats is something I want to do, even if it's just selling locally through a shop. I want to put my touch on Seattle. But it's going to be a slow growth process. I want this to be a well oiled machine and continue working with people who have been with me for a while. Right now, I'm just trying to process Salare. I'd been think about opening for a long time.