The UF graduate and James Beard Award-winning chef (and a People magazine finalist for “Sexiest Chef Alive”) kicks off a series celebrating the culinary talents of Gators.
Welcome to Gator Chef, an exclusive video series that showcases delicious recipes full of flavor and heritage served up by outstanding UF alumni chefs and passionate home cooks.
We’re kicking off the series with Chef Edouardo Jordan, two times James Beard Award winner and proud member of the Class of 2003. (He’s also a proud 40 Gators Under 40 honoree.)
A native of St. Petersburg, Chef Jordan earned dual degrees in business administration and sports management from his alma mater. However, his success as a food blogger convinced him to pursue a career as a chef.
Today, Jordan, 40, is the chef/owner of three acclaimed restaurants — JuneBaby, Salare and Lucinda Grain Bar – in Seattle, WA. His unique takes on Southern cooking start with lessons learned in his mother’s and grandmother’s kitchens, enhanced by a West Coast farm-to-table philosophy and contemporary techniques acquired during his extensive culinary training.
Signature dishes from JuneBaby – named Best New Restaurant of 2018 by the James Beard Foundation — include Momma Jordan’s oxtails with sea beans, mustard greens with peanut and coconut, and hummingbird cake. Dinnertime at Salare might find Jordan whipping up pasta with lamb bacon, Parmesan cheese, Brussel sprouts and cured egg yolk; or duck with celeriac, pecan bread pudding and cranberry jus.
Chef Jordan’s new retail line, Food with Roots, launched at Whole Foods in Washington State in May.
We caught up with Chef Jordan in June, when JuneBaby had switched to take-out only and Salare had been transformed into a relief kitchen to aid restaurant workers impacted by the pandemic. Filming in his home kitchen, Jordan took time to share a favorite recipe with the Gator Nation.
Familiar and unique flavors come together in this easy, fresh watermelon salad with cucumbers, smoky toasted feta and spicy romesco sauce. The recipe easily doubles to serve large crowds.
- ¼ — ½ seedless watermelon, peeled, cut into cubes
- 2 cucumbers (Persian or regular), thinly sliced
- ¾ cup or 1 block of feta cheese
- 1 bunch watercress (garnish)
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- fresh ginger
Sunflower Seed Romesco Sauce
- 1 cup raw sunflower seeds, plus 4 Tbsp for garnish
- 2 Tbsp harissa (hot chili pepper paste): you can buy it at specialty stores, substitute hot sauce or make your own here
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 pinch salt
- ½ to 1 cup water
- 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- ½ tsp mustard
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 pinch salt
- water (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange sunflower seeds in a single layer a rimmed baking sheet for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally so the nuts brown without burning. Remove and cool. Set aside 4 Tbsp for garnish.
- To the blender, add toasted sunflower seeds, harissa (3 Tbsp if you like it spicy), honey and salt. Turn on blender and drizzle water inside (more or less, depending on how chunky you like your sauce). Blend for 1 minute.
- Transfer to bowl. Mix with 2 Tbsp toasted whole sunflower seeds, for texture.
- Peel the watermelon (see Chef Jordan’s lesson here). Take ¼ to ½ and cut into 1‑inch cubes. Transfer to large bowl.
- Thinly slice cucumbers and put in own bowl.
- Toast feta by running a blowtorch over it or broiling it in the oven. For the latter, arrange feta in an ovenproof container and set under a broiler for 2 minutes until softened and browned on top. Mix after 1 minute to expose untoasted cheese to flame. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk balsamic vinegar and mustard. While whisking, add olive oil.
- Add a pinch of salt.
- Optional: add a little water, if you prefer a more liquid dressing. Whisk with other ingredients.
- Season the cucumbers by putting them in a bowl with a pinch of salt and a dash of olive oil. Stir.
- Take a large serving bowl and add 3–4 large dollops of romesco sauce. Spread on the bottom.
- Add 2 layers of cubed watermelon.
- Add ¼ cup cucumber slices, wedging them in between the watermelon.
- Add another layer of watermelon, followed by the remaining cucumber.
- Drizzle vinaigrette over the salad.
- Grate a small amount of ginger on top, to taste.
- Sprinkle 1–2 tsp toasted sunflower seeds on top.
- Spoon toasted feta cheese on top.
- Garnish with a handful of freshly snipped watercress leaves.