Chef Barton Seaver’s story is literally that of the young man and the sea, combining his love for all things seafood with a concern about sustainable food systems.
Seaver, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, made a name for himself at the Washington, D.C. restaurant Café Saint-Ex before wowing the Georgetown crowd at his seafood mecca Hook with fish that was completely sustainable, and completely delicious. The message, wrote Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema, was “There’s more to life than monkfish, cod, and farmed salmon.” Hook won praise for both its eco-conciousness and Seaver’s innovative cooking—he was named Esquire magazine’s Chef of the Year in 2009.
Seaver left the restaurant business to devote himself to working directly with the policy of sustainability. As Director of the Healthy and Sustainable Food Program at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard’s School of Public Health, Seaver aims to highlight the important connection between environmental resiliency and human health while ensuring that local food producers are able to make a living. The New England Aquarium named Seaver their first Sustainability Fellow in Residence to help relate the Aquarium’s conservation messages with the food we serve at our dinner tables. Seaver has also hosted both the National Geographic Web series Cook-Wise and the three-part television series In Search of Food that aired on the Ovation Network, as well as writing cookbooks For Cod and Country (Sterling Epicure, 2011) and Where There’s Smoke: Sustainable, Delicious Grilling (Sterling Epicure, 2013), a finalist for an International Association of Cooking Profressionals’ award, and joining a raft of chefs as a contributor to The Chefs Collaborative Cookbook. Seaver was also named by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the United States Culinary Ambassador Corp.
Seaver’s commitment started early, he said, in an NPR interview. He was catching flounder with his dad off the coast of Long Island, his father “filleting and sautéing the fish in the boat’s galley kitchen as fast as I could catch them.” The results were simple and stunning. My lasting memory of that fish (fish + lemon + butter + heat) is the reason I do what I do today.”