Young and Hungry

Barton Seaver’s Cookbook to Cater to the Walmart Crowd

seaver pic

I had been trying to reach Barton Seaver for weeks, hoping he might have something to say about his short time at Blue Ridge and about the Glover Park eatery's new focus on beer. But Seaver is a busy man, and we missed phone calls on several occasions. It was only late last week that we finally connected. He was riding in a taxi cab, barking directions to the driver, who clearly had no idea where he was going.

Seaver said he has been traveling a lot, whether for his work with sustainable fisheries or for his forthcoming PBS series, Turning the Tide or for the Oceans Now program with the National Geographic Society. But the former Blue Ridge chef has also been busy with a new cookbook, which his wife, Carrie Anne Seaver, has been designing for Sterling Publishing. It's set for a Spring 2011 release.

The book will focus on sustainable seafood as well as vegetables — "the fastest way to save the oceans, and ourselves, is to eat more vegetables," Seaver notes on his website — but "nothing about it is preachy," he tells me. There will be some sustainable seafood talk, he says, but mostly it's a book designed to provide home cooks with tips on what fish to purchase, how to store fish, and how to prepare them.

"I'm really writing this book for people who shop at Walmart," he says. "It's about engaging people at the point of impact."

The cookbook will include more than 100 recipes, none of which should sail over the heads of home cooks. The former Hook chef says this despite the fact that he was one of the pioneers in the use of controlled vapor cooking to maintain the moisture content of seafood. "I've been driving toward a more simple style [of cooking] for awhile now," Seaver says.

Which reminds me: Does Seaver ever want to cook again in restaurants? He appears poised, after all, to have a long career as a sustainable seafood advocate, TV personality, and cookbook author. Seaver admits he still has the itch to open his own place, despite the premature death of his last project, Diamond District Seafood Company.

"I was really hoping that Diamond District would work out, but it didn't," he says, citing a lack of financing as its downfall. "I'd love to do something like that again."

If he does relaunch Diamond District, Seaver says he'll do so right here in the District, regardless of all his recent globe-trotting. "Yeah, for right now, we're staying here," he says. "I got that D.C. flag tattoo on my leg, so we're slightly vested."

And with that, Seaver gives the cabbie some last directions and says he needs to cut our call short. The talk of Blue Ridge will have to wait for another day.

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