Acknowledging for the first time that he “hurt and mistreated” many co-workers and subordinates and that he is “deeply ashamed,” Seattle chef Edouardo Jordan posted a lengthy apology on Instagram on Saturday afternoon, asking for forgiveness and vowing to do better.
The apology followed a Seattle Times story from June 13 that detailed accounts from 15 women who accused Jordan of sexual misconduct and unwanted touching. Jordan initially denied many of the allegations and said he did not remember others. On the same day the story was published, Jordan issued a statement via his social media platforms that included the denial.
But this week, he deleted that initial statement from his social media platforms. And in the apology he issued on Saturday, he said, “my initial response was rushed and filled with the obvious emotion of defending myself which was not my intention,” and acknowledged that it had lacked “depth, empathy, compassion and humility.”
The Seattle Times investigation included four women who said Jordan groped them at work. One recounted that Jordan put his fingers between her buttocks through her clothes during her shift and tried to kiss her on a business trip. One said he touched her crotch, and another said he slapped her on the behind. A fourth woman said he massaged her waist. A fifth woman said Jordan, her boss, subjected her to an unwanted kiss outside of work. Their accounts ranged from 2012 to 2017.
Ten additional women said Jordan, as recently as 2019, made sexual comments, including about their breasts, or frequently touched them in unwanted ways, like hugging them from behind at work.
“I apologize unequivocally to all whom I hurt, mistreated, and placed in positions of discomfort because I unwittingly crossed personal and professional boundaries that should have never been breached,” Jordan said in Saturday’s statement. “I am acutely aware of the negative impact of my behavior and the profound hurt I have caused. I understand that the restaurant community is in need of radical systemic reform which, must, of course, begin, with me.”
Jordan, a James Beard Award-winning chef, did not directly address his future nor the future of his nationally acclaimed restaurant JuneBaby, which remains closed after most of his restaurant staff quit on the day The Seattle Times investigation was published.
In early June, Jordan announced the closure of his other restaurant, Salare, and said he planned to merge his Lucinda Grain Bar with JuneBaby and reopen the two as one restaurant.
In his Saturday statement, the chef said he was “optimistic and hopeful that the community I served will in time welcome an evolved me back” and vowed “to foster a restaurant culture that will be safe and equal for all.”
Jordan posted that he is “undertaking corrective actions to address my personal and professional weaknesses” but did not offer details on what those actions were.
Jordan did not immediately return emails or a phone call seeking comment on Saturday.
In contrast to his initial statement after The Times story published, Jordan on Saturday wrote that he is “genuinely grateful to those who came forward to call out my behavior. … I know that everyone didn’t do so with selfish nor malicious intent.”
With two James Beard Awards and three restaurants in Seattle, Jordan has been widely acknowledged as one of the city’s star chefs. The New York Times called JuneBaby “the hottest new Southern restaurant in the country” in 2017, and JuneBaby’s arrival came at a time when the restaurant industry was suffering from a lack of representation of people of color.
But as Jordan’s star ascended with the praise for JuneBaby, accusations surfaced of inappropriate behavior with female colleagues and subordinates, and Jordan, who was once considered one of the most promising Black chefs in the country, has become the latest symbol of a larger problem plaguing the restaurant industry: sexual misconduct in the workplace.
Jordan acknowledged in his statement that he has let down the Black community.
“At a time when we’re making advances as a culture, I fear my behavior has been a setback, not just for me, but also for all those who look like me,” he said. “When one of us fail, we all fail, as the entire Black community many times bears the weight of a single infraction but I stand in the glare of this one alone as its singularly mine to own and correct.”