Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Features and More

Acclaimed chef Edouardo Jordan comes home to Childs Park

RECOMMENDED READING


ST. PETERSBURG — It was the first question he asked the 47 kids assembled at Childs Park Recreation Center on Monday morning.

"Who is ready to go back to school?"

One limp hand in the air.

Deonte Thompson moved on, introducing his childhood friend and national phenomenon: Edouardo Jordan, St. Petersburg native, 1998 graduate of Boca Ciega High School, and the first African-American to make the cover of Food & Wine for its annual "Best New Chefs" roundup.

Like Jordan, Thompson grew up in this neighborhood, going on to study electrical engineering in college and to serve as executive director of DreamFaith Foundation, an organization aimed at empowering the country's youth by equipping them with the necessary tools to overcome life's challenges. It was DreamFaith, and Thompson, who invited Jordan to town.

Monday, Jordan was equipping kids with his secret weapon: smoked paprika. He cut up chicken, sauteed onion and bell peppers, the paprika and oregano flavoring the slow-simmered dish that would become chicken and biscuits.

But his advice went beyond knife skills.

"There are a diverse array of careers out there, things beyond entertainer or sports hero," he said. "You have to have a dream, and you have to have a goal. If it's raining outside, you can't control that. But you can have an umbrella."

Jordan, 37, graduated from the University of Florida and then Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando. He has worked at some of the country's best restaurants, from Thomas Keller's Per Se in New York and the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., to the Herbfarm in Woodinville, Wash. Last year, he opened his own restaurant in Seattle called Salare, an ode to Southern cooking.

"I'm a product of Childs Park," he said. "I went to Azalea Middle School and the lightbulb came on. It was like one of my teachers punched me it the stomach when she said, 'You have potential, but you've got to make better life decisions.' My friends were doing stupid things, skipping school, stealing. Some even died."

While he checked the biscuits, he told the kids about his high school experience. He ran track and cross country, played football and wrestled, took AP classes. And once he got to UF, "I surrounded myself with people different from me, people who made me feel uncomfortable, in a good way. People who made me push."

The night before, Jordan had teamed up with old friend Ferrell Alvarez, putting together an eight-course meal at Alvarez's Rooster & the Till in Tampa for an elite group of 39 diners who each paid $180 to hobnob with the Seattle superstar. Jordan knew Alvarez from working together at Mise en Place years ago; Mise's Marty Blitz was in attendance Sunday night.

But the next morning, no money changed hands as the kids lined up to try Jordan's chicken and biscuits.

"The chicken is cooked real good, and this is a good biscuit," said Herbert Wright, 14, a student at Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School.

Jordan was hoping to nourish the group with a lot more than biscuits.

In the culinary world, he said, plenty of African-American chefs have loosened things, pushed against the glass ceiling.

"I was the one who ran all the way through."

Contact Laura Reiley at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley on Twitter.

 
Comments
Poll: 1 in 3 Americans dreads political talk at Thanksgiving

Poll: 1 in 3 Americans dreads political talk at Thanksgiving

WASHINGTON — Bring on the turkey — but maybe hold the politics. Thanksgiving is Glenn Rogers’ favorite holiday, when people gather around the table and talk about things to celebrate from the past year. But Donald Trump’s pre...
Updated: 19 minutes ago
Alone for the holidays? There are plenty of ways to find joy

Alone for the holidays? There are plenty of ways to find joy

The words in the Craigslist ad are heartbreaking. "Do you know anyone out there that goes years and years being alone for the holidays?" it reads. "No family. No traditions. No one to eat dinner with. "If you are willing to open up your home to a per...
Published: 11/22/17
Hometown Pasco for Nov. 24

Hometown Pasco for Nov. 24

We want your news! Hometown Pasco is devoted to everyday life in our county, whether it’s snapshots from your family reunion, recreational sporting event, news from your last club meeting or just a few lines thanking someone for a job well do...
Published: 11/22/17
At 107, hard work, loving family and lots of milk are retired milkman’s keys to long life

At 107, hard work, loving family and lots of milk are retired milkman’s keys to long life

HUDSON — The oldest resident at Atria Windsor Woods just happens to be one of its newest arrivals.When he was 104, Lloyd Klement still drove his car and exercised at local gyms. And until just a few weeks ago, he still lived in his Port Richey home.N...
Published: 11/22/17
Here's where to see Christmas lights in Tampa Bay

Here's where to see Christmas lights in Tampa Bay

Once the Thanksgiving leftovers are put away, you can stop grumbling about it being too early for Christmas lights and decorations. Let the grand illuminations begin! Despite our tropical climate, or maybe because of it, Tampa Bay goes all out when ...
Published: 11/21/17
‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’ is a sad waste of Denzel Washington

‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’ is a sad waste of Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington’s labored portrayal of a shambling legal savant named Roman J. Israel, Esq. is the least of the movie’s worries. This is a story of shifting ethics that should be dramatic, but shaky logic prevents that from happening.Dan Gilroy’s f...
Published: 11/21/17
Plan your weekend: Indie shopping, Lindsey Stirling, ice skating, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith

Plan your weekend: Indie shopping, Lindsey Stirling, ice skating, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith

Plan your weekendShoppingBlack Friday: Avoid the madness of the malls at a variety of indie shopping experiences this weekend. Skatepark of Tampa has one of the best sneaker selections in Tampa Bay and free skating all day Friday to celebrate. They’l...
Published: 11/21/17
Trump pardons Thanksgiving turkeys and takes a shot at Obama

Trump pardons Thanksgiving turkeys and takes a shot at Obama

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump wielded his pardon power Tuesday to spare a pair of turkeys from the Thanksgiving roaster, joking that he would also let last year’s turkey pardons stand despite his penchant for overturning Obama-era orders. In a ...
Published: 11/21/17
Five ideas for easy Thanksgiving appetizers

Five ideas for easy Thanksgiving appetizers

Thanksgiving can put a heavy burden on the host. We’ve assembled five appetizers that are quick and easy to prep. Some, like our risotto balls and goat-cheese figs, cater to vegetarian diets, so you can be sure to please all your guests. Even i...
Published: 11/21/17
‘Last Flag Flying’ is kind of a puzzling follow-up to 1973’s ‘The Last Detail’

‘Last Flag Flying’ is kind of a puzzling follow-up to 1973’s ‘The Last Detail’

Richard Linklater called 2016’s Everybody Wants Some!! a "spiritual sequel" to his last-century breakout Dazed and Confused. Different characters, same youthful, life-exploring vibe.Linklater’s latest, Last Flag Flying, can be considered a spiritual ...
Published: 11/21/17