He is 28, but his culinary resume reads like a seasoned 40-something. Washington, D.C. native Executive Chef Barton Seaver, a StarChefs.com Rising Star of 2006 and recently nominated as a Rising Star Chef by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, of Hook was taught at an early age about the importance of food.
Dinner in the Seaver home was a seven nights a week family affair. Eating dinner with his family was a communal celebration and involved shopping for the freshest ingredients at local markets, instilling this value in him at a young age. Mac and Cheese was never just out of the box, but prepared with a homemade bamel cheese sauce and pasta made from scratch. Summers spent at a family friends hog farm on the Chesapeake Bay, along with crabbing and going with his father to buy fresh seafood from local fisherman, taught Seaver the importance of supporting local purveyors and using quality and fresh ingredients.
According to Seaver, "Seasonality and locality made sense to me early on." Seaver began his professional career working for popular D.C. restaurants such as Ardeo, Felix, and Greenwood. After years of invaluable kitchen experience, Seaver made his way to Hyde Park, New York, where he trained at the renowned Culinary Institute of America. During his schooling, he spent time in the kitchens of Tru restaurant and The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton under Sarah Stegner in Chicago.
Upon graduating with honors, he immediately took a fellowship position at C.I.A. as a graduate teacher in both the meat and fish classes. Working in this hands-on environment taught Seaver the importance of proper handling and techniques of exceptionally fresh products, all the while giving him direct access to sources of fish through the eastern seaboard ports. Under the guidance of Chef Corky Clark, he learned to appreciate underutilized species of fish and became a proponent of sustainable ocean products.
Seaver is a certified sommelier through the Sommelier Society of America and is continuing his studies with Wine and Spirits Educational Trust in London. Recently, he was asked to join the Board of Directors of DC Central Kitchen as the culinary force behind the non-profits educational programs. Additionally, he is also active in the Slow Food movement, and recently cooked at the bi-annual Slow Food Terra Madre conference in October 2006 in Italy. Other organization involvements include the Chefs Collaborative, the James Beard Foundation, the National Restaurant Association, the International Seafood Conference, Chefs Congress, a culinary resource to the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Seafood Alliance. As a firm believer in the idea that chefs are the keepers of food culture, he is publishing a monthly article for the online newsletter for StarChefs.com.
In an effort to educate fellow industry members, Chef Seaver will address the issue of sustainability from the perspective of a chef offering solutions to common problems they face in their profession such as buying decisions and their responsibility as the definers of what is fashionable eating. Monthly columns are archived on the StarChefs.com website with new articles posting on the 15th of each month.
Barton Seaver: Barton Seaver of Hook Restaurant in Washington D.
C. and now that we have our fish cooked, our pumpkin seared and our picante sauce done, I am going to show you, how to put them all together on the plate.
Okay, so now we have got everything ready to go, we will pull our fish out of the oven. Oh! Man look at that; that is gorgeous. The thyme is nice and crispy, garlic is on top; man! This is going to be good. So, we are going to start off with our picante sauce, which is still a little bit warm, coming straight out. So, take one big, spoonful, just right off center in the middle of the plate, right off to the middle of the plate. Now, I will just push it out, just like that. Just again, have a nice, little puddle of it and then using the back of the spoon, pushing it out. That will take some of our pumpkin here with the red onion and the mints. I will place it right there. You want to make sure you get those red onions sort of sitting on top, so the people see those and really adds a great textural, a visual texture to the plate. We have these beautiful pieces of rockfish. So, scrape off the thyme and the garlic and if you have got a towel, just so on a pat; the pat dries some of that fat off there. So, it's not quite--man! Look at that; perfectly cooked, nice and moist. That will go right on top. And then I have got a little bit of greens; right now, I have got a little chickweed. Chickweed is a wild green, that we are getting from the area right now. So, just take a little tangle of that, sort of finish that off, just add a little fresh component to the dish. I like to just, as I said, everything needs to be seasoned on your plate. So, we are going to add just a sprinkle of olive oil and I have got a finishing salt which is a maldon salt; it is a sea salt from North Atlantic. Just add a little bit of that to -- as well as just a little, couple of pieces to the fish. So, well have a textural component to it. When you bite into fish, you get a nice, crunchy bit of salt. So, that is your dish; it is a gorgeous, autumn. You got all the flavors, a lot of them in there; you got that nutty aromatic, of both the fish with the onions and the garlic and the thyme on top, that nice, caramelized butter. The maple goodness of the picante and the sort of nutty aromatic and then the garlicky, strong flavored pumpkin with a little bit of mints on there. So, that is your dish. I hope you enjoyed the demonstration.