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The young chef with a dream

The story: After earning degrees in business administration and sports management from the University of Florida, Edouardo Jordan decided he really wanted a career as a chef. So the 1998 graduate of Boca Ciega High School in St. Petersburg got a degree from the Orlando Culinary Academy and set out to become “the best chef in America.”

By JANET K. KEELER
Published November 5, 2006


The story: After earning degrees in business administration and sports management from the University of Florida, Edouardo Jordan decided he really wanted a career as a chef. So the 1998 graduate of Boca Ciega High School in St. Petersburg got a degree from the Orlando Culinary Academy and set out to become “the best chef in America.”

First stop was an internship at Mise en Place in Tampa and then on to the French Laundry in Napa Valley, Calif., to work in the kitchen of master chef Thomas Keller.

The French Laundry is often called the best restaurant in America.

From the story: “Yeah, I could have gone to some big kitchen and worked my way up from dishwasher to line cook to potentially sous chef and maybe, if my luck was right, executive chef. But who really has 50-plus hours a week to slave in someone else’s kitchen for 15 years without any guarantees?” said Jordan about his decision to go to culinary school.

The rest of the story: At the French Laundry, Jordan learned he was “too slow, nowhere near perfect and not good enough.”

But he was strong mentally, he says, and that enabled him to withstand the rigorous work. Eventually he was assigned to make the restaurant’s stocks: veal, chicken, mushroom, rabbit, lamb and duck. His most memorable experiences: recipe testing with Keller, soaking the chef with soap water, and having Keller say one of the meals he prepared was excellent.

What’s next: Jordan, 26, has moved to Washington state to work at the  Herbfarm restaurant in Woodinville, near Seattle. The Herbfarm’s claim to fame is its farm-to-table nine-course, five-wine dinners. Jordan expects to learn more about cooking with herbs and spices there.

He also has started a personal chef service ( www.nouvellechef.com).

“I plan to spend a few years learning more about the West Coast, then travel to the East Coast and finally back home to St. Petersburg to establish myself and my cuisine,” he says.

Janet K. Keeler, Times staff writer