Chef Edouardo Jordan has been a star in the dining world for the past five years, earning rave reviews and major awards for his Seattle restaurants, Salare, JuneBaby, and Lucinda Grain Bar. Now, amid more than a dozen sexual misconduct allegations, the chef has been forced to close these restaurants indefinitely after his staff resigned en masse.
Over the weekend, the Seattle Times published an investigation in which 15 women made allegations ranging from groping and inappropriate sexual comments to forced kisses outside of work. The reporters behind the story – Jackie Varriano and Asia Fields – wrote that a total of 28 people told the newspaper that they saw or witnessed inappropriate behavior by Jordan.
Jordan denied the allegations to the Seattle Times, but admitted that he tried to kiss a colleague on a business trip. Shortly after the Times published its report, he also posted a statement on Instagram in which he wrote, “I am deeply sorry if my behavior has ever offended someone who is uncomfortable. . . While I deny many of the allegations reported, every woman who has shared her experience with me has a voice that deserves to be heard. ”(Jordan did not immediately respond to Robb Report’s request to approve the allegations express.)
After the Times report was published, most of the employees at his two restaurants resigned. Both companies will now remain closed for an indefinite period.
The allegations against Jordan are the latest in a series of revelations about high-profile chefs and restaurateurs in the #MeToo era. Mario Batali was forced to part with his own restaurants after alleged misconduct. Ken Friedman has closed many of his restaurants following sexual harassment exposures, and John Besh resigned from his own restaurant group after the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that his restaurants had “promoted a culture of sexual harassment.”
41-year-old Jordan cut his teeth off at renowned restaurants like Thomas Keller’s French Laundry and Per Se before moving to Seattle. Finally, he opened Salare in 2015, inspired by the fine dining technology he had honed in his career. The restaurant’s success helped him become the first African American to become one of Food & Wine’s top new chefs. This was followed by JuneBaby, a restaurant that embodied its southern heritage. He received a three-star rating from the New York Times from critic Pete Wells, won two James Beard Awards in 2017, and became the first black chef to receive the Beard Award for Best New Restaurant. Robb Report also named JuneBaby among its 10 Best New Restaurants in America for 2018.
As his profile grew, Jordan became an advocate of southern cuisine and its role in American culinary history. He was also open to making sure black chefs weren’t erased from American food history. He has built high profile partnerships with companies like Lexus and Blue Apron. The latter has now largely removed Jordan from its website, leaving only a press release announcing their collaboration last October.
The future of Jordan’s restaurants is now in question. The chef had already announced last week that salars would be closed at the beginning of July due to financial burdens from the pandemic. He also said that Lucinda Grain Bar would merge with JuneBaby. But since the Times article came up, the chef hasn’t revealed if and when JuneBaby will reopen.