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D.C. native Barton Seaver learned early on about the values of cooking, growing up in a family that got together for a family meal every night of the week, usually cooking and sometimes walking to an ethnic restaurant in town. Eating dinner with his family was an involved process from shopping for the freshest ingredients at local markets to eating together at the family table. Mac and Cheese was never just out of the box, but prepared with a homemade béchamel 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. Seasonality and locality made sense to Seaver early on.

Seaver began his professional career working for D.C. restaurants Ardeo, Felix, and Greenwood. After three and half years of invaluable kitchen experience, Seaver made his way to New York where he trained at the Culinary Institute of America. During his schooling, he spent time in the kitchens of Tru and The Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago under Sarah Stegner. He graduated on a Friday, and the following Monday, took a fellowship position at C.I.A. as a graduate teacher, providing the meat and fish for the whole school. Working in this hands-on environment taught Seaver the importance of proper handling while giving him direct access to sources of fish through the eastern seaboard ports. Under the guidance of mentor Chef Corky Clark, Seaver became a proponent of sustainable ocean products.

After his tenure at the C.I.A., Seaver went on to The Finch Tavern in New York to work under renowned Chef Dan Kish, where he was eventually promoted to Executive Sous Chef. Seaver’s classical training inspired him to travel extensively throughout the Iberian Peninsula and Africa where he participated in old world traditions of farming and harvesting from the sea. He spent time working in small seaside restaurants and cooking with families in their homes. Seaver later returned to Washington, DC, in order to work for Jose Andres at Jaleo, where he gained experience at a classic tapas bar.

In early 2005, Seaver accepted the position of Executive Chef at Café Saint-Ex which has become a platform for informing and educating diners about issues concerning health and the sustainability of food products. Using local organic ingredients and focusing on sustainable fish species, Seaver blends Mediterranean simplicity with stylized organic cuisine. The simple, market driven food of Seaver’s childhood home and worldly travels have translated to a strong commitment to the idea of a chef’s responsibility for sharing gastronomic tradition, culture and information. Seaver’s belief in the minimal changing of high quality, responsibly sourced ingredients comes through in dishes like a barely manipulated, lightly garnished Walu with Sweet Potato Puree and Orange Parsley Salad. Beginning with sustainable Walu (or white tuna), and using no more than lemon, chili and parsley to highlight the fish’s inherent flavor, Seaver builds a simple and delicious dish with smoke-infused water rather than a traditional heavy stock or butter.

Seaver is a certified sommelier through the Sommelier Society of America and is continuing his studies with Wine and Spirits Educational Trust in London. In addition, Seaver and Café Saint-Ex are proud supporters of Humane Farm Animal Care and serve certified humane products in the restaurant He is one of the few chefs in the Washington, DC area to use only sustainable fish on his menu. Seaver is also an active member in the Slow Food movement, most recently cooking at the Slow Food Terra Madre conference in Turin.

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