What’s it like to be one of America’s hottest chefs? A rundown of a typically atypical, very busy day leading up to the James Beard Awards.
Edouardo Jordan looks like he’s sitting pretty with his wildly successful Seattle restaurants Salare and JuneBaby, plus a stack of awards with more, possibly, on the way. (He’ll find out if his life’s work is honored with the industry’s biggest — the James Beard Awards — on Monday.) But the reality is that as a hands-on chef/owner (he and his team laughingly debate the term “control freak”), he’s rarely sitting.
6:30 a.m.: Time to get up.
7 a.m.: Time to get his 4-year-old son up, then breakfast — scrambled eggs, as requested, plus leftover paella from Tarsan i Jane — then to school. (Jordan was married for nine years, but now co-parents: “We were just walking different paths.”)
9:30-noon: A trip to Home Depot for restaurant needs; a stop for balloons for JuneBaby’s anniversary, which happens to be today; a drive to Bellevue to get his tuxedo tailored for the James Beard Awards gala.
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Noon-2 p.m.: “Putting out fires” at both restaurants: No roux has been made at JuneBaby (“That’s like a brain fart”), an oven’s going bad, a 16-top at Salare will require a tasting menu, etc., etc.
2 p.m.: One of innumerable laps between Salare and JuneBaby, two blocks, to pick up some checks. He estimates he clocks at least 2 miles a day this way: “I’m nonstop-ish.” He has walked into dogs while checking email on his phone.
2:13 p.m.: Back at Salare: “Welcome to my office,” a table temporarily covered with messy stacks of papers, letters, ledgers, a laptop. Writing checks, paying the IRS, finessing the oven warranty, a call from his sister/business partner. Conducts interview with reporter (me). Phone chimes approximately every four minutes.
3:21 p.m.: Waters garden in front of Salare, using stinky liquid fish fertilizer. “It doesn’t really feed the restaurant, but it garnishes the restaurant.”
3:33 p.m.: Hones knife in Salare’s kitchen, starts making avocado crema for the staff meal/party later (duck tacos, Kobe beef hot dogs, burgers). Tries to worm out of a team member whether they’re considering a job at The French Laundry.
3:55 p.m.: “Uh oh, we gotta go.” Back to JuneBaby, pre-service staff meeting with applause for one year. But: housemade hot-sauce bottles too empty, not good. Education about millet to share with customers. How much he loves — how to sell — the boiled peanuts: “This is home for me.” Debate about wild ramps. Socratic method employed. Encouragement: “Let’s keep on walking the walk on the right path. And I plan to celebrate with you guys tonight, so let’s break down as fast as we can!”
4:32 p.m.: Leaves JuneBaby, leans back in: “Shake these rugs out here!”
4:35 p.m.: Up to his apartment, above Salare, where the staff party will be. Walks his dog, Doubter, a boxer. “He loves me!”
4:47 p.m.: Back at Salare, taste-tests a baby artichoke, Castelvetrano olive, clementine salad for tasting menu — needs more acid.
4:50 p.m.: More staff meal/party prep in Salare’s back kitchen, etc.
6:11 p.m.: Cooking on the line at Salare, though he said he wouldn’t be.
6:30 p.m.: Selfies with private party, presentation of tasting menu.
7 p.m.-?: More Salare, more JuneBaby, more party prep upstairs and downstairs, etc., etc. “We’ll probably call it at one a.m. [laughs] Or later. To do it all again!”