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: Hi, my name is Barton Seaver. I am the Executive Chef & Partner of Hook Restaurant in Georgetown of Washington D.
C. Today, we are going to be showing you how to make a Pan-Seared Rockfish fillet with minted pumpkin and a picante sauce. It's a great autumn dish with a lot of ingredients. I'll be showing you all those ingredients as we go through the whole process. I am going to be showing you how to break down the fish, a little bit about how to purchase the fish and then a couple of different cooking techniques. I have been a Culinary professional for ten years, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York where I was also a graduate teacher for about two years, teaching about the meat and fish, butchery departments. Today, we are going to be demonstrating how to break down a wild Strait bass, which is a representative of any and many of the fish species available on the Atlantic and Pacific coast of America. The wild Strait bass is a fantastic fish, not only for flavor, but also it has a great story of sustainability. It was very near the brink of extinction about two decades ago, but through proper management it was brought back and it is now a very well managed species and one of the very best fish that we have in the ocean. I know a lot of my colleagues and chefs love to serve it. It's very versatile and it is lot of fun. It is also readily available. So, it is something you will find readily in any of your local fish markets or butchers and so it is that. We will start after showing you a little bit about the fish; wild Strait bass, you can tell is a wild by the fact these lateral lines are unbroken on the farm-raised species, which is a cross between a freshwater white bass and a wild strait bass. It is broken down here, but on the wild fish it is one side lateral line all the way through. Now, any fish that you are going to get that is legally caught is going to have a tag in the mouth. This one is coming from the waters of Maryland. So, this is very close to our restaurant here and I know that this fish is of legal size and caught from someone who does have a license. So, let us get started. We are showing you how to break down the fish.