The Year Ahead With Barton Seaver

This post is part of an ongoing series. To access all the profiles in this series, visit The Year Ahead.

Who: Barton Seaver, executive chef and partner of Hook in Washington, D.C., a restaurant serving responsibly-sourced seafood and local products. In October 2007, the Blue Ocean Institute, a national conservation group, honored Seaver along with explorer Sylvia Earle and filmmaker Alastair Fothergill for their commitment to preserving the world's seas. He is also active with Chefs Collaborative, Seafood Choices Alliance and the National Restaurant Association.

Eco-resolution: I spent 2007 trying to make sustainable seafood available in a niche market restaurant setting. Restaurants have a unique role to play in the process of learning for their patrons. I will continue to help create more demand for ecologically responsible ocean products. This is challenging at times because sustainable seafood is defined by so many processes and ideas that there is no easy way to label a product as such. Given this difficulty, it is my mission this year to work toward making sustainable ocean products not only more prevalent within the fishing community, but more accessible to all levels of society in the market setting. Sustainable seafood is not a luxury item, nor should it ever be. In order for seafood to be sustainable it inherently must be available to all of us, regardless of our social status. I am working on projects, including new restaurants, that do not seek to brand sustainable seafood as an alternative or different product but rather as the standard.Outlook for '08: Sustainability begins with people and my sights are set on the consumer in 2008. Sixty percent of the seafood consumed in America is purchased at restaurants therefore I will persuade my colleagues to be the change agents. It is within a chef's reach to create change by offering a new experience, a new flavor, a new desire. Chefs can sell guests a solution. But this will not happen without the will of the consumer. I will continue to spread the word about the plight of our oceans through the seafood cards produced by BOI and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. New technologies such as the FishPhone from BOI are making responsible dining easier but still fall short of achieving our goal. It is a sociological change that I seek. I hope to make a positive impact to negate the deleterious effects of our years of unconscionable destruction of our wild resources. Restaurant settings provide an avenue for fishermen who are trying to fish in ecologically friendly ways and market their fish.

Photo credit: Chris Eichler
Looking for more info on sustainable seafood? Check out our coverage of FishPhone, a text-messaging service that can help you choose sustainable seafood on the spot. And for home chefs looking to emulate Seaver's talents, check out One Fish, Two Fish, Crawfish, Bluefish: The Smithsonian Sustainable Seafood Cookbook, featuring scintillating seafood recipes.


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