Chef Barton Seaver of Healthy and Sustainable Food Program at The Center for Health and the Global Environment - Biography

South Freeport, ME

September 2015

Chef, author, and National Geographic Fellow Barton Seaver is on a mission to help restore relationships between people, ecosystems, and cultures of our world—through dinner. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Seaver traveled to Essaouiera, Morocco,  a seaside village where survival is directly linked to the ocean. The experience made a lasting impression on Seaver. Returning to his native Washington, D.C. in 2005, he began his career as a chef, first with José Andrés at Jaleo, then as executive chef of Café Saint-Ex, and later at its sister restaurant Bar Pilar.

In 2007, Seaver became chef-owner of the sustainable seafood restaurant Hook in Georgetown, which made Bon Appétit’s “Top 10 Eco-Friendly Restaurants” list. In a single year, the restaurant served 78 species of seafood, and Seaver’s devotion to sustainability led to national media attention, both for his cooking and his cause. Meanwhile, he was honored as a “Seafood Champion” by the Seafood Choices Alliance, a “Legend & Leader” in ocean conservation by Blue Vision, and was recognized by the Blue Ocean Institute for his sustainability efforts.

Seaver has opened seven restaurants as an executive chef, but he realized he could do more outside the kitchen, leaving the restaurant industry to accept a Fellowship with the Explorer Program at the National Geographic Society through which he travels the world to investigate the failures and successes of human interaction with nature from a culinary perspective. He’s also written four books, joined ranks with Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health as Director of the Healthy and Sustainable Food Program at the Center for Health and Global Environment, was named the first Sustainability Fellow in Residence at The New England Aquarium, is a regular participant at the Aspen Institute, and delivered a highly influential TED talk. Seaver was named to the U.S. Culinary Ambassador Corp in 2012 by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 

Before he was spreading the sustainability message, Seaver graduated with honors from the Culinary Institute of America. After traveling extensively in southern Spain and Morocco, Seaver returned to his native Washington, DC, in 2005 and began his career as a chef, first with Jose Andres at Jaleo, then as executive chef of Café Saint-Ex, and later at its sister restaurant Bar Pilar. In 2007, Seaver became chef-owner of the sustainable seafood restaurant Hook in Georgetown, which made the Washington Post’s Top 50 and Bon Appétit’s Top 10 Eco-Friendly Restaurants. In a single year, the restaurant served 78 species of seafood, and Seaver's devotion to sustainability led to national media attention. In 2008, he was honored as a “Seafood Champion” by the Seafood Choices Alliance and as “Rising Culinary Star of the Year” by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. He was named Esquire magazine’s “Chef of the Year” in 2009.

With National Geographic, Seaver works on ocean issues to increase awareness and inspire action. He also works closely with D.C. Central Kitchen, the School Nutrition Association, the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, and Future of Fish. Seaver’s work has been featured in Cooking Light, O: The Oprah Magazine, The Washington Post, Fortune, and Vanity Fair. He has appeared on CNN, NPR’s “All Things Considered” and “Weekend Edition,” and Bloomberg Radio. In 2010, he gave a TED Talk aboard the National Geographic Endeavor.