JuneBaby, an acclaimed Southern soul food eatery nestled in the Pacific Northwest, joined the ranks of other critically acclaimed restaurants on Monday night after being named Best New Restaurant at the James Beard Foundation’s annual awards ceremony in Chicago.
The eatery’s founding chef, Eduoardo Jordan, is the first Black American chef to earn the award, according to the New York Times. Jordan, a native of St. Petersburg, Florida, also walked away with the award for Best Chef in the Northwest for his first restaurant Salare, which he opened in 2015.
At the time, Jordan said he wanted to be celebrated as a chef — not just a chef of color.
“It’s obvious I’m a chef of color, but respect me that I can be one of the best chefs, point blank. Not the best chef of color, but one of the best chefs,” he said in the Netflix docu-series, “Ugly Delicious.”
When Salare’s opened, the seasoned chef said he was reluctant to serve a particular dish.
“I didn’t want to put fried chicken on the menu,” Jordan said.
All that changed, however, when Jordan saw white chefs elevating the popularity of southern cuisine. At this point, it was also getting harder to ignore the call of his southern roots. Cue the birth of JuneBaby in 2017, where fried chicken is served each and every Sunday as an homage to the Black tradition, KUOW reported.
Jordan said is named after his father.
Women chefs and other restaurateurs of color were also among the winner’s circle at Monday night’s ceremony, including Dolester Miles of Birmingham’s Highlands Bar & Grill, who was named Oustanding Pastry Chef. Miles has been making decadent desserts for the restaurant since it opened in 1982, The New York Times reported.