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How a superstar Seattle chef gets his 5-year-old son to try new foods



Edouardo Jordan wants his son to be able to distinguish certain aromas and to enjoy all sorts of foods.

PHOTO: JOSHUA HUSTON

Edouardo Jordan is the superstar chef behind a trio of Ravenna hotspots (Salare, JuneBaby, Lucinda Grain Bar). In 2018, JuneBaby won the award for Best New Restaurant and Jordan took home the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Northwest.

But as the father of 5-year-old Akil, Jordan wants to get one thing straight:

“I’m not some chef where only I can cook my food for my son and we only eat the best of the best in the world,” he says.

Cooking is his career, but he has to “determine what I have time for and how elaborate or how simple I need to be at certain times. Sometimes it’s just about getting substance into the body and it’s a fast meal, or it’s going to pick up food or a partial meal I can put together myself.”

And while Jordan says he hopes Akil doesn’t show too much of an interest in cooking as a profession, he says his son is curious about food, the kitchen, and especially ingredients.

“He’s now talking about spices. He learned about black pepper, so he asks for black pepper a lot now. As soon as he learns one, he wants to incorporate it into his eating.”

Jordan tries to foster this curiosity by exposing Akil to ingredients — from carrots to calendula flowers — and talking about using all five senses to experience food.

“Some parents might hate me for this, and some parents might love me for this; my kid doesn’t drink booze, but I allow him to smell booze. This is what this wine smells like, this is what a brandy smells like or a ginger liqueur. I want him to understand what senses are and what certain aromas are.”

Jordan believes that this curiosity starts with parents, noting that if you aren’t a person to eat green vegetables, it’s going to be doubly hard to get your kid to eat them.

“It’s all about exposure,” he says.

For example, he recently got Akil to try parsnips by pairing the roasted root with a familiar ingredient — an apple.

“I said, ‘Grab the apple and grab the roasted parsnip and eat them together. It’s going to blow your mind.’ And he looked at me and he smiled and bit into it, blinked a couple times and then looked back at me, and I was like, ‘I told you!’”

According to Jordan, exposure doesn’t stop with ingredients and fostering curiosity to try new foods. He also believes kids should be exposed to restaurants at an early age; Jordan started with Akil when he was only a week old.

“Don’t be afraid to start young, because if they’re not going to be acclimated to that environment of sitting down for 45 minutes and eating at a young age, how are they supposed to adapt at the age of 2 when they haven’t been exposed to it very much?”

If the parenting world of Jordan has a theme, it’s exposure. Expose kids to the lights and sounds and experience of a restaurant early, expose them to the sights and smells of ingredients, ready or not.

“Yeah, it’s not going to be easy,” he says with a laugh.

But Jordan says getting those big-kid smiles — like Akil gave him after eating that apple and roasted parsnip — make all the growing pains that come with exposure worthwhile.

 

Jordan's restaurants:

Salare, 2404 N.E. 65th St.

JuneBaby, 2122 N.E. 65th St.

Lucinda Grain Bar, 2120 N.E. 65th St.


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