Chef and Conservationist
Photograph by Katie Stoops
Photograph by Mark Thiessen
Barton Seaver is a chef who has dedicated his career to restoring the relationship we have with our ocean. It is his belief that the choices we are making for dinner are directly impacting the ocean and its fragile ecosystems.
Seaver has manned the helm of some of Washington, D.C.’s most acclaimed restaurants. In doing so, he brought the idea of sustainable seafood to the nation’s capitol while earning Esquire magazine’s 2009 “Chef of the Year” status from acclaimed food writer John Mariani.
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Seaver has cooked in cities all over America and the world. Having been bitten by the travel bug, Seaver found work in southern Spain at a small family restaurant. Their casual, ingredient-based cooking style would prove to be an important influence in his perception of food as an essential part of community. When the off-season arrived, Seaver hopped on a boat to Morocco and landed in the small seaside village of Essaouira. There, he took part in generations-old fishing methods, becoming a part of a community whose survival was directly linked to the oceans. This had a huge impact on his belief that sustainability is, at its root, not only an ecological matter, but also a humanitarian one.
While sustainability has largely been assigned to seafood and agriculture, Barton’s work expands far beyond the dining table to encompass socio-economic and cultural issues. Locally, he pursues solutions to these problems through D.C. Central Kitchen, an organization fighting hunger not with food, but with personal empowerment, job training, and life skills.
Barton has been lauded as a leader in sustainability by the Seafood Choices Alliance and was named a fellow with the Blue Ocean Institute. Barton has joined the board of Harvard Medical School's Center for Health and the Global Environment. Together with National Geographic, the Center is partnering with hospitals and health care providers in the Greater Boston area to educate them about healthier and more sustainable food service opportunities.
He is the author of For Cod And Country (Sterling, Spring 2011), a book of recipes that inspires ocean conservation through the experience that we all share—dinner. In addition, Barton is working on television and online shows that will engage consumers by telling stories everyone can relate to, whether they are preparing a meal or preparing to eat it.
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Recipes from Barton Seaver's new cookbook "For Cod & Country" featuring delicious sustainable seafood and vegetables.
Utilizing principles and recipes from his new cookbook, For Cod and Country, Chef and NG Fellow Barton Seaver, addressed big issues affecting the ocean through the shared experience of a great dinner.
What are Barton Seaver and the rest of the National Geographic Explorers up to? Meet the E-Team and learn about their projects in this interactive mural.
In Their Words
"There's this scientific approach to sustainability. And then there's a human one. You start talking about fish, and it's automatically some empirical formula which takes a Ph.D. to understand. I'm not trying to save the fish. I'm trying to save dinner."
Barton Seaver quoted in Washington Post
Barton Seaver is a chef who has dedicated his career to restoring the relationship we have with our ocean.
Listen to Barton Seaver
Hear various interviews with Seaver on National Geographic Weekend.
00:06:00 Barton Seaver
National Geographic Fellow, chef Barton Seaver, talks about his recent trip to Switzerland, and his surprising discovery that the country, famous for its chocolates and watches, is now growing a reputation for its caviar and tropical fruits as well. Seaver explains how a thermal spring is used to grow sturgeon fish and bananas in the Alps.
00:08:00 Barton Seaver
National Geographic Fellow Barton Seaver is a renowned chef and sustainable seafood advocate. Seaver joins Boyd in the studio to talk about menhaden, a special species of fish, and why pigs shouldn’t go fishing.
00:06:00 Barton Seaver
Yes you can—with the can! Chef and National Geographic Fellow Barton Seaver joins Boyd to talk about canned seafood. It can be sustainable and tasty, according to Seaver, who shares an easy canned seafood recipe.
National Geographic Fellow, chef Barton Seaver, may sing the praise of canned seafood, but, for Boyd, the idea brings back memories of food poisoning in Africa.
00:08:00 Barton Seaver
Barton Seaver, National Geographic Fellow, and chef, is all about eating locally and seasonally. According to Seaver, "There's a time and a place for things." A fresh, great tasting peach is only right in the warm summer months, while in season. That being said, he encourages people not be "caged in by this philosophy." Frozen foods, despite the stigma that many people have for them, are often frozen at peak ripeness and thus preserve all of their nutrients. These are affordable, and healthy to have during the off-season months. As Boyd so elegantly wraps up "Eat it fresh in season, eat it frozen out of season."
00:11:00 Barton Seaver: Alaskan Fishing
National Geographic fellow Barton Seaver loves to fish. He joined Boyd to chat about a recent trip to Alaska to observe the effects of the controversial proposed Pebble Mine and its possible effects on the area's fisheries and the local salmon run. And while he was in the neighborhood, he couldn't resist dipping his rod into the Stuyahok River, catching and releasing his way from the mountains, down through the tundra, and into the forests where he met some delicious salmon. Seaver left Boyd a Grilled Alaskan Salmon with Tarragon Butter recipe to try, rather than using the bear spray to add spice to the fillets, (a staple of Boyd's cookbook).
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