Young and Hungry

Barton Seaver to Be Named Esquire’s Chef of the Year, Controversy Ensues

seaver pic

Jane Black over at WaPo posted a dandy item today about Esquire critic John Mariani naming Barton Seaver "chef of the year" in the upcoming November issue. As Black chronicles, the New York magazine's decision flies in the face of local D.C. opinion on Seaver's latest venture, Blue Ridge, in Glover Park.

Whether a good decision or not, I decided to call Seaver this morning and get his take on the situation. If there's one thing I know about Seaver, it's this:  He has a pretty healthy perspective on his skills and talents. He also takes criticism better than just about any human being I've ever met.

He was at Blue Ridge when I phoned and didn't know what I was congratulating him about. He thought it might be his recent marriage.  He asked if we could talk again in 30 minutes. Twelve minutes later, he called back. He had just read Black's blog item.

Seaver said he had an invitation to an Esquire event on Monday night in New York City. Other than that, he wasn't going to speculate about any honor.

"Until Monday night, I have no idea about the recognition," he told me. "I don't want to get ahead on anything."

I asked Seaver if he remembered Mariani's Blue Ridge visit and if the chef was there personally to take care of the critic.

"I don't want to get into anything at all...until Monday," Seaver responded.

So how to explain the wide gulf between Mariani's grand pronouncement — I mean, short of a Beard Award, you can't get much bigger than "chef of the year" from a national magazine — and the local critics' take on the food at Blue Ridge?

You could question Mariani's ethics, as media outlets have done repeatedly. You could also look at the difficulties of preparing food, day in and day out, for diners who aren't famous national magazine critics. Seaver told me awhile ago that he didn't have the luxury of reassembling his Hook staff for the Blue Ridge kitchen. He had to start over from scratch, since all his former cooks had become successfully employed elsewhere.

Personally, I think Seaver is a talented chef, but that's not enough to produce quality restaurant meals on a daily basis. The kitchen needs to understand the executive chef's philosophies, his techniques, his concepts, his intentions for every single recipe. This takes time, perhaps more time than critics, including myself, can grant a restaurant.

But let me say this: I suspect local opinion on Blue Ridge will be a better reflection of the place than whatever Mariani will write or say. Or, at the very least, the local take will be a better reflection of your experience at Blue Ridge, since you are likely not a famous food writer for a national magazine.

Let me also say this: A year from now, Blue Ridge will not be the same place. It might, actually, be closer to Mariani's perception.

  • dan riley

    I love Esquire, but I'm dumbfounded by this.

  • EL

    I understand some of the speculation, as this critic seems to have a spotty track record on ethics, but all of that aside... this award is for CHEF of the year, not restaurant of the year. I agree that Blue Ridge has it's ups and downs, but let's not judge Seaver solely on one restaurant endeavor. His menu and influence at Saint Ex endures; he and his team made Hook one of the top restaurants in DC, and in my humble opinion, it is lacking in their absence. He has brought attention to seafood sustainability in a way no one else has been able to do. He may very well do for seafood sustainability what Alice Waters did for local farms. He is 30 years old and has done more good and received more acclaim than most chefs twice his age. I may sound a little overly enthusiastic, but it's because i have an enormous amount of respect for what he is doing. His food is delicious, with clean flavors that honor the ingredients. He allows his diners to be part of his movement, to support local food systems, and to ask the hard questions about WHY these things are important. I, for one, am overjoyed to see a chef receive this award who is deeply connected to the food he is serving. Very few chefs can say they really know the folks growing and raising the food they are serving their customers. Seaver can- and as the Chef of the Year, we can only hope others will follow his lead.

  • dan riley

    Well said Eli...I mean EL.

  • Jay

    Wow, another culinary media travisty! Who put this gut in a pedestal. Mr. Seaver has not done anything significant in the culinary world but spout off what little he knows about sistInability. He also has not held a job running a kitchen with any kind of consistancy ever. The food at Blue Ridge is a horrible example of Vidalias food circa 1997.
    When one thinks of the culinarydriving forces In DC one thinks of Eric Ziebold RJ Cooper, Frank Ruta, Cathal Armstrong, Johhny Monis three are
    Beard winner two are Beard nominees and oh
    holy shit have been commanding their kitchens
    for years are mostly there everyday using the
    best of this region and Bart Seaver wouldn't last a day in these chefs' kithens because they demand the best.

    He has a great pr force behind him and this has shown the world that media can out play talent. chef

  • Dumbfounded

    It's a slap in the face to all who work so hard to prefect their craft. Mr. Mariain has in my mind called into question his palette, how shameful, his only talent. I only hope that this doesn't further ruin the honor that it takes to be called a "Chef". What a fool. To all the prep-cooks, line cooks, sous chef's, chef's, to all those in our kitchens, keep working hard, learn your craft, take pride in yourselves. It is better to be respected by those you respect than to be handed fake honors.

  • Eric

    Who cares, El good point Mariain has questionable ethics, and to seal Seaver's lack of validity we have a new "best chef in the country". But your second point of " not best restaurant, but best chef" calls into question what it takes to be a chef and by what do you measure them. True he has been the media darling of sustainablity, which I find insulting to all who have spent their lives as advocates, and to the hundreds of chef's country wide who have praticed this their entire carears. But we need a spokes person and he needs validity to market the green movement. Which I am all for, if we're not going to infected with B.S. fish kinves, and B.S. green cutting boards, which is all just a load of B.S. Jay your right but D.C. is a speck on the map and there are thousands of talented and driven chefs all over this country. Dumbfounded I agree it's not about Seaver but about Mariain, any credit he had has been dismissed by this choice. Maybe next year he can nominate Ronald McDonald this years clown is taken. Lastly memory's are short but I remember Seaver's fist culinary gift, smoky water, where a burning log was plunged into water then used to season his ingredients. That's right guys, this is who won best chef in the country. He fed cancerous food to his diners, Dumbfounded you got it right "what a fool" Shame on you Mr. Mariain.

  • WTF

    wow is this a joke barton seaver best chef in the country I wouldn't go as far as saying best chef in glover park

  • Bill

    How does this unfair, award look to an ever growing dining scene in DC. Chefs Ziebold, Cooper, Armstrong, Monis on the top of the next generation. To Paladin, he is rolling in his grace. To Michel Richard, Buben, Weidmeir, Tunks, Cam the chefs that pave the way in DC they should feel embaressed. To Andreas and the TFG team that he left after a year. St. Ex that he hosed. Hook that he demolished. This chefs are laughing. The staff that worked with him laughing. Anyone who has been close to him in a kitchen sees the lack of talent. The lack of leadership. He is a great actor knowing little about alot. Tunks Buben Weidmeir talk with the about sustainability they have owned cooked in restaurants in this town for 20 plus years.

    Esquire a fashion magazine doesnt know shit about food, restaurant business and the talents that lye in this city.

    Bart Seaver run for office you would win that as well and again thank the devil you sold your soul to.

  • Another dc cook

    What a culinary travesty and a huge blow to the Washington DC dining scene.

    Barton Seaver was name the Nation Chef of the Year by Esquire!!! How simply wrong this is. The guy may be knowledgeable about sustainability, he may know a little about fisheries, but that doesn’t make him a good cook or a great chef.

    If any of these media people actually do any fact checking, one would learn that he has not been successful in any kitchen dynamic he has ever been in. If one tastes his food that is being produced from the kitchen he is supposed to be running, will find miss guidance, lack of execution, muddled flavors and above all not leadership.

    We have a tremendous amount of talent in this city. Culinary pioneers (Jean Louis Palladen, Yanick Cam, Jeff Buben, Robert Weidmair, Roberto Donna, Jeff Tunks) that have paved this city’s culinary highway for the next generation of superstars (Cathal Armstrong, RJ Cooper, Eric Ziebold, Johnny Monis, Frank Ruta) on this list are 6 Beard winners, two nominated, one of the best chef/cooks in the world, chef’s who spend countless hours crafting cuisine that embarrasses not only the region but sustainability (oh and all have been working consecutively in there restaurants for more then five years!!!)

    Leadership on a culinary front should start with the kitchen not the media where Mr. Seaver’s has turned to make his brand successful. Spouting off about sustainability should start with being able to sustain a success in food, restaurant and staff.

    This award has brought a tremendous amount of negativity to the great cooks that are in the DC metro area.

  • john mariani

    Tim Carman and DC area bloggers have every right to disagree with my naming Barton Seaver "Chef of the Year" in Esquire's annual (25th anniversary) article The Best New Restaurants in America 2009. But to set the record straight, nowhere was he called the "Best chef in America," but was one of 20 his year whose work stood out for me. The honor of being called "Chef of the Year" was based more on two lengthy interviews with Seaver about his ideas on improving America's food chain, sustainability, and move away from the dominance of proteins, and he has been earnestly working towards these ends. I also thoroughly enjoyed the food at Blue Ridge. As for my "questionable ethics," references to four-year-old libelous accusations in the Chicago Sun-Times about me by Chicago chef Homaro Cantu of Moto were long ago refuted when Mr. Cantu sent the following email to the NY Post, which the Sun-Times never bothered to print: “I wanted to respond directly to the recent reports that have come out regarding respected journalist, John Mariani, and his visit to Moto in Chicago. Mr. Mariani dined at Moto on March 2nd 2004 and as a young chef I was excited to have such a prominent journalist take interest in my food. As with any guest, we take into account special requests and Mr. Mariani’s were communicated to me via fax by our former public relations firm. I never received any direct requests from Mr. Mariani himself. Having said that I regret any of my earlier statements that may have brought Mr. Mariani’s character or journalistic integrity into question.” Despite this, journals like the Washington City Paper continue to bring back this wholly discredited story.

  • Tim Carman

    John, I see that you sent a version of this very note to the Washington Post's food section and asked them to post it on their blog. I can see why you did it. But to my mind, it doesn't begin to answer the questions raised in the Los Angeles Times story. Neither I nor the Post linked to the Sun-Times story to begin with. Instead, there was a reference to it in a much longer, much more nuanced story in the L.A. Times. The L.A. paper itself discredits the Sun-Times story. Yet your focus on that episode, at the exclusion of the other accusations, smacks of misdirection. What about Cleveland, Portland, Los Angeles, and Houston (twice even)? I would find myself more sympathetic to your comment here had you addressed all the questions raised. I might have even felt chastened. As it is, I just feel manipulated.

  • john mariani

    Tim, had I space and time to refute, correct, or explain the accusations from FOUR YEARS AGO, not to mention why some those stories came from writers who have themselves been let go by their papers over questions of personal ethics, I would go on for days. I mentioned and repeated the Chicago story because the Wash Post DID reference it and so did the LA TImes by extension. In the case of the LA Times, the reporter never even spoke to on the phone. In the case of the Cleveland reporter, he told me he himself went on press trips. If your readers really wish to know how the ethics of newspapers, magazines, and TV news shows are cut to fit, this discussion would go on for weeks. But unlike some in the media, I do not choose to lob ancient libels at colleagues without doing a reporter's work and getting them on the phone before publishing hearsay. In fact, The Wash Post did speak to me by phone, I told her about the Chicago libel--because she asked--and then she made no reference whatsoever to the retraction. Thus, I sent it.

  • Tim Carman

    John, I appreciate your continued response, and I agree that a conversation about ethics and publications could go on for days. And many writers probably wouldn't look so good as a result. But we're not talking about other writers' ethics, we're talking about yours, as the restaurant critic for Esquire magazine. You keep attacking the messenger(s), which is an effective tool but which doesn't answer people's concerns about the way you select the Best Restaurants and/or chefs.

    Now let me add: I understand the stresses of your job. It requires a lot of money and time. Publicists and chefs will tempt you at every turn with free this or that. The ethical line can get blurry, but it's important for your readers to know where you set the ethical line. I think these questions keep popping up for you because many of us (and I do include myself here) are not clear where your line is, particularly because it seems you might take freebies for non-Esquire work. What's more, Esquire editors say you pay for every meal, but then examples pop up in which PR people say you don't. In the publishing world, it comes down to a matter of trust...

  • re: john mariani

    John, wouldn't you say being named "Chef of the Year " by Esquire Magazine would require the actually ability to cook good food, rather then having the ability to charm you in two "lengthy" interviews.... There is a good reason why your ethics are constantly being questioned.

  • Lynn.B

    I'm a native Washingtonian, I have lived her my entire life. I have eaten some of the finest meals by the hands of DC's talented chefs. You could consider me a foodie, I've traveled the country, and across the oceans to sample the worlds best. So why was this the topic of conversation of the evening? Simply it shouldn't be, I have eaten at all of Barton Seavers restaurants, from a flavorless vegetable plate at St. Ex to a tepid piece of sablefish at Hook, to my latest disappointment, popcorn and bland and soggy sweet potato fritters. The Best Chef Of The Year I think not, however his media prowess and constant advocation of sustainability is admirable, ever if he's only jumping on the train. All who are upset should thank John, he's unveiled DC's culinary Marrion Barry, he will get elected again, but we all know the truth. Lastly I know Alice Waters, have dined at her restaurant several times and the only thing she shares in common with Barton Seaver is a taste for designer women's clothes.

  • john mariani

    Here are the facts.
    1. Esquire paid for EVERY meal for the 20 best new restaurants of the year. All you have to do is call the restaurants on the list and ask. Or I could send you the receipts.
    2. In 25 years I have NEVER asked (much less demanded) a free meal of any restaurant anywhere or made any ridiculous demands for limos, hotel rooms, or anything else.
    3. I and every restaurateur I know will tell you that the farce of anonymous visits by restaurant critic is laughable, more than 99% of the time. I have in the past reviewed restaurants for the NY Times and other journals and I knew it was a farce from the moment I came thru the door. And to believe that kitchens can turn on a dime if they see a critic coming is to be totally ignorant of the way professional kitchens are run. More important, since I am a feature writer for Esquire--not a critic in the sense you use it, just as, say, Anthony Bourdain, Peter Greenburg of CBS News, and Mark Bittman of the NY Times are not critics. Like them, I insist on meeting the chef, talking to the chef, and, as in the case of Barton Seaver, writing my Esquire article as a Q&A, my interaction is crucial to doing features rather than restaurant reviews as you seem to believe they are to be done.
    4. The best new restaurants are selected on the basis of these criteria and no other:

    To make the list, a restaurant must:
    1. Have opened after September 2008.
    2. The restaurant cannot just be a relocation or new décor with the same chef.
    3. The restaurant cannot be a branch of an original restaurant somewhere else.
    4. The Chef must be a working chef, not one who merely puts his name on the door and rarely visits.
    5. A distinctive style of food separates very good restaurants from innovative ones.
    6. Atmosphere and comfort count far more than dazzling décor.
    7. Prices should reflect the quality of food, décor, and service.
    8. A wine or beverage list should reflect the kind of cuisine the restaurant serves.

    I get my info from the obvious sources--colleagues, who tell me the best possibilities in their cities. P.r. people can be valuable for information but my selections are based on the criteria above and only the criteria above.

    3. Until you can prove to me that the food writers of the Wash Post, Washington Times, Washingtonion, and Washington City Paper are all as pure as driven snow, I'll just sit back and wait. Again, once upon a time reporters used to call people on the phone before sullying their character, rather than just blogging on the basis of others' erroneous assertions. But I guess that kind of reporting is a thing of the past.

    If you or your readers WANT to believe those discredited 4 year-old stories from questionable sources, they probably also believe that Rev. Wright is telling Pres. Obama what policies to promote.

  • Doug g

    Well if you did your research Mr.Mariani you would know barton seaver spends more time talking about himself, and shopping for women's jeans then actually cooking. ( so there goes 4. The Chef must be a working chef, not one who merely puts his name on the door and rarely visits.) Mr. Mariani did you ever think your turning into a "questionable source".

  • TIm Carman


    Again, I appreciate your willingness to engage in this discussion. I want to point out that this give-and-take is, in fact, a form of reporting. It's not the pick-up-the-phone-and-call-you form, which I do all the time and am happy to do with you, too, but it's a form nonetheless. I want to point out, however, that this forum provides you with a less mediated (that is, edited) forum than you would get in a "reported" blog item or published newspaper item. You get unfettered access to say and write whatever you want. Should we have talked, I would have edited it to merely a quote or two, as you know.

    Now, as you also know, I can't speak for the Washingtonian, the Wash Post, or the Wash Times, but I guarantee you that if any of them had ethical or critical lapses, I would talk to them about it. Ask Tom Sietsema or Joe Yonan at the Post. I have reported on them in ways neither particularly liked, based on information that came my way. It's part of my job.I would expect them to do the same if I were suspected of compromising behavior.

    What I can't figure out is your tone. Perhaps it's because you have been dragged through the mud so much in the past few years. But you are in the public eye. You write for a major national magazine. Regardless if your work is feature writing or critical writing (and frankly I do both of them, too, but I know that I'm perceived as a critic first), you will get questioned by the public and by others in the media. It comes with the job. Your tone suggests am I out to sully your reputation by merely asking questions of you. I'm not. I'm trying to understand your ethical boundaries. Your tone, to me, suggests defensiveness.

    As far as the anonymous critic goes, I agree with you. It's hard to maintain, and any restaurant with a PR person worth his/her salt likely knows what you look like. But that still doesn't mean you give up on trying to sneak into restaurants anonymously. There is indeed a difference in both service and food when a critic is spotted. Dishes are pampered over. I've heard stories that a kitchen will cook two of everything just to make sure one of them is done correctly. The service is fawning. The wine pours a little deeper. This is not the experience of the average diner. Your list of the 20 best new restaurants is indeed perceived as a critical stamp of approval, based on the standards of a professional restaurant critic, regardless if you talked to the chef or not (which I do as well).

    Finally, you have thrown down a Gary Hart-like dare that is tempting to accept. I will talk with my editor and see if we want to call all 20 of the restaurants on your list to verify your claims. You might want to start rounding up those receipts, too.

  • Alex

    Wait is Blue Ridge one of the 20 best new restaurants and if it is don't you regularly eat a restaurant more then once for lunch before deciding.,

  • john mariani

    As noted, Im happy to scan and send you any or all of the 20 receipts.

  • Taylor Swift

    Hey Bart, I'ma let you finish, but Julia Child is one of the best chefs of all time. OF ALL TIME.

  • Restaurant Manager

    As a restaurant manager, I want to note that I agree with Tim. A restaurant does act differently when a VIP is in house, whether its a regular, a friend, an employee or a critic. Everyone should receive an amazing meal ALL the time, but VIPs get checked by both a Chef and a Maneger before going out in the places I have worked. Although you *might* receive the same high level as an anonymous diner, you are guaranteed to get 100% as a critic or VIP guest. I have never seen the two dish technique but it wouldn't surprise me at all. It also promotes constant visits from the manager and server, the tables in the best servers section and the nicest table; again, not always the case for the average diner.

  • Another dc cook

    Glover park, DC: Hello Tom,

    I have been to Blue Ridge a couple of times and have had lukewarm feeling about it. Then I saw the article about Chef Seaver being named chef of the year. Wondering what your thoughts on that were.

    Also any word on there other restaurant Sonoma, I have been meaning to check it out.

    Tom Sietsema: I think it says something that most of the local critics felt much the same way you did after eating at Blue Ridge: indifferent about the restaurant, which is helmed in part by Barton Seaver. The guy is an enthusiastic spokesman for sustainability, but chef of the YEAR? No way.

    Esquire should be embarrassed by the pronouncement.

    Yet another reason I tend to trust newspaper reviewers to magazine critics, some of who are too easily seduced by public relations people. Jane Black on the Barton Seaver-Esquire Issue

    Taken the fact that you sat at lunch with his pr rep Wendy Freeman shows that you are a man that can be scmoozed by woman and a pretty face.

    In DC alone the are several restaurants that are heads and shoulder better then blue ridge. Service slow with no knowledge, food mediocre at best and the fact that Bart cant do a single pastry would send a signal about his talents.

    Come on man!!!! We are all on to your bull shit!!!

  • All DC Chefs

    Thanks Tim we love that you have the best palate in the city but you can see BULL SHIT and call it like the rest of us. Tim you are now the superhero for all chef and cooks in this city!!!!!

    John please dont come back to our city and embarrass us again!!!!!

  • enough

    this barton seaver bashing is pathetic.

    as a native of the DC area (and local university alum) - now transplanted to another city - it defies comprehension that having the chef of the year for any national publication come from DC and not LA, vegas, NYC, etc., can be anything but positive for the DC food scene. because i come from DC, i have known the area to have great chefs and restaurants, but i will guarantee you the vast majority of esquire’s vast readership does not.

    please, put down your sour grapes and think of the big picture. he hasn’tt been crowned BEST CHEF IN THE F-ING WORLD FOREVER, he’s been named chef of the year by a non-food magazine based on his achievements, his philosophy, and the remainder of the reasons that the critic himself described above. i mean, have you ever read esquire? the award does not diminish the other great chefs in DC, be they beard winners or recipients of other honors.

    moreover, barton is a human being - a 30 year old man who already has accomplished a great deal. he’s from DC and contributes a great deal to the community. you should really be happy for the guy and proud that he’s from our hometown. in the meantime, give it a rest. your time will come, too, maybe sooner now that DC has gotten more culinary attention thanks to things like barton’s esquire award.

  • GR

    Saint Ex is a cool spot, but the food is pretty unimpressive. At that price point, there are far better options nearby.

  • GR

    That aside, more press for sustainable seafood is never a bad thing. If the article in question makes Esquire readers think about ocean ecosystems for two minutes, that's great. Also, haven't made it to Hook yet, and sorry to hear that I may have missed out on its best days, but its kid sister, the Tackle Box, is a fun place, with great comfort food for someone who's spent a lot of time on the coast in New England.

  • ??

    Why should we be proud that the chef of the year is barton seaver, he is a terrible chef who has a good PR firm and IS not considered one of the best chefs in Washington.

  • Clarity

    Enough and all Barton fans please allow me to clarify. Washington DC is a small town when it comes down to it. We all know each-other in some fashion, are friends, or enemies. We know each others skills, knowledge, favorite drink, and have a degree of respect for all. In Barts case we have a young and opportunistic guy. His resume couldn't land him a job as a cook in any fine restaurant. He went from upscale bar food to center stage at Hook, we all know he was never in the kitchen, or that he almost never actually cooked a thing. We know that he left the restaurant world to pre-sue his own philosophy only to return, break up a long friendship for his own gain. He then opened a mediocre restaurant than resembles and poor take on Cracker Barrel ( no offense). You cannot hide behind simple food, a skilled chef lifts his ingredients and combines them to create something special, nature gives us a bounty not an excuse. Cooks and chefs disgust in celebrity chefs is the in-ability to back it up, most of these guys can't even finish a shift. It's a insult to all of our hard work and is embarrassing, and it strikes home when we all know what the real story is. His own cooks and even his home town critics can't believe it. Now the bulls-eye is on Bart's back, would you be upset if you were turned down for a promotion by someone less skilled? take that feeling and times it by 100 and maybe you'll gain some "clarity". One last thought a "man" is honest, trust worthy, and respectful, if Bart wanted to gain a little he would have the guts to turn down John's award I may not like his cooking but I would have to respect that.

  • this is really petty

    Clarity, you don't really make much sense, and I have to say that your take on things regarding Bart isn't the same as mine at all.

    I don't think Bart asked for this "award". It was given to him by someone who thinks he is doing a good job. If you disagree with the choice, take it up with John Mariani.

    As for the assertion that Chef Seaver hasn't spent time in a kitchen or couldn't finish a shift, that's just silly. And your vague explanation of what happened at Hook doesn't seem to be based on any facts.

    Honestly, this all sounds so petty that it felt necessary to step in for Chef Seaver, who has found himself in the middle of this through no fault of his own.

    I think that a lot of you should know that to the casual observer, you just sound kind of jealous.

  • Dean Gold

    I have not been to hook when Barton Seaver was there nor have I been to Blue Ridge. But at leas twhen I post on food, I do so with my name out there for all to see. To all the Barton Seaver bashers, maybe you should consider the same thing instead of hiding behind anonymous names to post.

    While I really don't know Barton's skill set either from working with him, or knowing folk who did, I do know his passion for sustainable fisheries is important. There are other restaurants where you may know the name of the farmer who grew the salad greens that are on the plate with that unsustainably caught skate wing or that yummy piece of endangered cod.

    Folk all over the internet sing the praises of local crab when the total population is in single digits from its historical levels and vilify restaurant that take the responsible road and serve crab from non local & abundant fisheries.

    Does Barton Seaver deserve this award? It is PR run amok? I don't know. Does he deserve praise for raising an issue that we should be more pro active and aware of in the restaurant industry as a whole? Yes.

  • Rest. Manager

    To all of those that didn't realize it until
    now, chefs and Barton Seaver are in the public eye. Is it anyones
    business what goes on in their personal lives as long as they can cook and do it well? No. Are they subject to criticism by everyone and their mother, yes. It's just a fact of life. You are an artist, the quality of your work is subjective. Now a days it's even worst because not only do you have 2-8 food critics
    but thousands of food bloggers, yelp reviewers, open table ratings and even flippin facebook. I am sure Barton Seaver knows that and has taken this all with a grain of salt. Has he done great things in terms of sustainability? Sure. Does that
    make him the best chef of the year? Not necessarily. Jimmy Carter was amazing at addressing social issues but was a not the best president ever
    by far.
    The issue that is still in question is that John Mariani had alterior motives or a skewed sense of reality when making this decision. It goes back as TS mentioned to why I trust newspapers more than magazines. I have never seen our PR person sit with a reporter for a media dinner. I have actually had media people and our PR person draw that line as professionals. Like Tom said as well, you try and be anonymous still if possible.
    Also, when being passed up for an award that could make their careers, I think it is the right and duty of every chef, gm and pr person to question this as it unfairly represents the cream of the crop of DC.

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  • All DC Chefs

    Cooks are not artists the are craftsmen!!!!!

    Paul Bocuse

  • bobgoatcheese

    Left unsaid here is what this must be doing to Mr. Seaver. None of the alleged crimes against humanity listed above (wearing women's jeans?) would seem to make him deserving of some of the vitriol directed at him in this debate. It doesn't seem as if this controversy was his fault, but reading these posts would surely be a confidence shaking excercise for him. I had one lunch at Blue Ridge and each dish and side was perfectly executed. Chef of the Year? Who knows. But I'd be very surprised if any of the haters here are actually chefs of a skill level higher than Seaver's, because those people are too classy to say the things said here. Relax, people.

  • bobgoatcheese

    In fact, the more I think about this thread, it is a real shame. Imagine what people from out of town must be thinking reading this? "Instead of being happy for the recognition, the folks in this guy's backyard are blasting the recognition as undeserved and fact tearing him down".

    When this thread gets picked up by the National press it's going to be embarassing for us.

    Shame on those of you here that are negative about Seaver, but don't have the skill level to do better yourselves in an incredibly hard industry.

  • inside man

    I know Barton Seaver and I have worked for the best chefs in the city. That being said, he is a decent guy with a great PR firm and Eli Hangst's poor ownership skills to back him. Chef of the year? This obviously reeks of poor and lazy journalism on the part of Mr. Mariani. In fact, it so blatantly obvious that he has such little regard for investigative journalism, two things should be done. 1. Relocated to another section of Esquire's magazine, (of which i subscribe to) and 2. we should stop talking about it. One more point, everyone who ripped Esquire's selection of Barton as Chef of the Year only did so because they (and I include myself) love the DC food scene. We are so passionate about the incredible chefs and cuisine's this area affords us that we are willing to tear down the wrong choice in order to fight for right one. It's not a matter of petty jealousies but rather integrity. Period.

  • Clarity

    Amen inside man, Amen.

  • Billy Ray

    Barton is the Bernie Madoff of chefs, everyone has figured out his ponzi scheme. His integrity is at the level of a common criminal.He spews out such bullshit with no facts. The food community will continue to reject him as he has no backbone and little skill.I wouldn't be suprised if Blue Ridge stays in business . He is bad news

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  • Gerry

    I grew up with Barton in DC and haven't seen him in ages but I can say this: Bart is one of the nicest, most genuine people I have ever met and if you guys could get your noses out of the air just long enough to realize that anyone can cook, but only a great chef can get people excited about food, you'd be better off. Name one other chef that has brought more attention to sustainable cooking. Name one other chef at his age that has handled himself with as much grace and class. Your negative opinions fall on deaf ears anyway, since none of you will ever likely be published, much less listened to.

    Congratulations, Bart! You have not only earned it, but will continue to raise the bar long after these naysayers are gone and forgotten.

  • Korrupt

    I wonder how much Mariani was paid?