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ProfilesChef Barton Seaver in his kitchen at Hook

Barton Seaver

Barton Seaver’s childhood growing up in Washington DC was
structured around family dinners prepared using fresh ingredients.
His parents were both intrepid cooks, so dinner took on the role of entertainment as well as of communion. Barton spent his summers on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, where he learned first-hand about the importance of an agrarian ethic. He and his brother would spend the days crabbing, picking vegetables in the garden and then preparing the days work for a family feast. Barton’s culinary experience began in some of DC’s most popular neighborhood restaurants. After a few years of on the job training, he continued his training in New York at the Culinary Institute of
America
. During his time at the CIA he was able to work in Chicago at Tru and the Ritz Carlton. Following graduation, Barton stayed on in Hyde Park as a graduate teacher. Under the tutelage of his mentor Corky Clark, he taught both meat and fish fabrication. It was here that he studied as many varieties of fish as he could get his hands on and where he developed both his appreciation of fish and his technique.
After another stop in New York, where he worked at Finch Tavern as Executive Sous Chef under Chef Dan Kish, Barton traveled throughout Spain and northern Africa. He worked at a small, family run hotel in southern Spain, where each day he gathered fresh vegetables and herbs from the hotel’s garden with the assistance of Esteban, the hotel’s trusty burro. Next, Barton spent time on the coast of Morocco working with sardine fishermen who used the artisnal methods of countless generations before. This time away from the hectic restaurant kitchens of the States instilled in Barton a growing appreciation for simple, market-driven food, as well as an early understanding of the global issues facing fishing and farming communities around the world.
Barton returned to Washington DC, and joined Chef Jose Andres at his flagship restaurant Jaleo, which specialized in traditional small plates cuisine. Barton next moved on to Café Saint-Ex in 2005, where as Executive Chef he further developed the restaurant’s bistro style to include local ingredients and Mediterranean influences. In 2006 he worked with friend and fellow Chef Andres alum Joshua Whigham to open a sister restaurant, Bar Pilar. It was in these two kitchens that Barton developed his belief that we are supported by a single ecology and that a sustainable, terrestrial ethic necessitates a sustainable sea ethic of the same conscience. In April 2007 Barton left to open Hook in Georgetown, a sustainable seafood restaurant featuring local produce. In less than a year Hook was named to Washington Post’s Top 50, Washingtonian Magazine’s Top 100 and Bon Appétit’s Top 10 Eco-Friendly Restaurants. StarChefs.com and the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington have both named Barton a Rising Star, and Hook was nominated as Best New Restaurant for 2007 by the RAMW. By reaching people through delicious food in a beautiful setting, Barton found a willing audience for the message of sustainable seafood.
In April of 2008, Barton kept up the pace and opened TackleBox, a casual counter service seafood restaurant based on the famous clam shacks of the New England coast. His menu celebrated the classic dishes of a northern summer while using sustainable seafood and local produce, while also maintaining a reasonable price point that made sustainable options available to a broader clientele.
While a talented chef and certified sommelier, Barton has left restaurants to devote more time to his work in non-profits, sustainability and social justice issues. He sits on the Board of
Directors for DC Central Kitchen, works on educational programs with Chefs Collaborative and Blue Ocean Institute, and is a nationally recognized writer and speaker. He has been honored by
the Blue Ocean Institute, named a 2008 Seafood Choices Seafood Champion, Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington Rising Star, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium as a leader in the sustainable seafood movement. He has been featured prominently in major media outlets such as Oprah magazine, Martha Stewart media. As a chef his mission is to educate his colleagues about the ease of using sustainable seafood, as well as offering diners a
solution by celebrating the delicious options that also protect our future. As a philanthropist Barton works to increase awareness of the socio-economic factors surround fishing and the communities
that depend on a healthy ocean. He lives in Washington DC, where he can often be seen going to the farmer’s market on his Vespa when he is not working on his upcoming cookbook.

Updated December 2, 2008

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