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He is 28, but his culinary resume reads like a seasoned 40-something. Washington, D.C. native Executive Chef Barton Seaver, a StarChefs.com Rising Star of 2006 and recently nominated as a Rising Star Chef by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, of Hook was taught at an early age about the importance of food.

Dinner in the Seaver home was a seven nights a week family affair. Eating dinner with his family was a communal celebration and involved shopping for the freshest ingredients at local markets, instilling this value in him at a young age. Mac and Cheese was never just out of the box, but prepared with a homemade bamel cheese sauce and pasta made from scratch. Summers spent at a family friends hog farm on the Chesapeake Bay, along with crabbing and going with his father to buy fresh seafood from local fisherman, taught Seaver the importance of supporting local purveyors and using quality and fresh ingredients.

According to Seaver, "Seasonality and locality made sense to me early on." Seaver began his professional career working for popular D.C. restaurants such as Ardeo, Felix, and Greenwood. After years of invaluable kitchen experience, Seaver made his way to Hyde Park, New York, where he trained at the renowned Culinary Institute of America. During his schooling, he spent time in the kitchens of Tru restaurant and The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton under Sarah Stegner in Chicago.

Upon graduating with honors, he immediately took a fellowship position at C.I.A. as a graduate teacher in both the meat and fish classes. Working in this hands-on environment taught Seaver the importance of proper handling and techniques of exceptionally fresh products, all the while giving him direct access to sources of fish through the eastern seaboard ports. Under the guidance of Chef Corky Clark, he learned to appreciate underutilized species of fish and became a proponent of sustainable ocean products.

Seaver is a certified sommelier through the Sommelier Society of America and is continuing his studies with Wine and Spirits Educational Trust in London. Recently, he was asked to join the Board of Directors of DC Central Kitchen as the culinary force behind the non-profits educational programs. Additionally, he is also active in the Slow Food movement, and recently cooked at the bi-annual Slow Food Terra Madre conference in October 2006 in Italy. Other organization involvements include the Chefs Collaborative, the James Beard Foundation, the National Restaurant Association, the International Seafood Conference, Chefs Congress, a culinary resource to the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Seafood Alliance. As a firm believer in the idea that chefs are the keepers of food culture, he is publishing a monthly article for the online newsletter for StarChefs.com.

In an effort to educate fellow industry members, Chef Seaver will address the issue of sustainability from the perspective of a chef offering solutions to common problems they face in their profession such as buying decisions and their responsibility as the definers of what is fashionable eating. Monthly columns are archived on the StarChefs.com website with new articles posting on the 15th of each month.

How to Clean Calamari

This video will show how to clean calamari.

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How to Clean Calamari

Ingredients

1 lb. fresh, "dirty" and small calamari

2 cloves of garlic, 1 passed over a microplane

3 tbsp. olive oil

½ lb. new potatoes

¼ green beans, snipped

3 heads frisee, trimmed and chopped

2 large handfuls of basil leaves

¼ cups of walnuts toasted (you can also substitute pine nuts or almonds)

Salt

Instructions

1. For the calamari: Ask your fishmonger to clean the squid, leaving only bodies and tentacles.  "Dirty" is a market term referring to squid with skin still on.  Marinate squid in 1 tbsp. olive oil, 1 clove of microplaned garlic and 1 pinch of salt.  Grill calamari on high heat over charcoal about 1 minute per side. 

 

2. For the basil pesto: Put basil, second garlic clove, walnuts and 2 tbsp. olive oil in blender and puree until smooth.

 

3. For the potatoes: Dice potatoes.  In cold water bring to a boil for 1 minute and strain.

 

4. To serve: While cooking calamari, reheat potatoes with green beans in a pan on side of grill. Toss warm potatoes and green beans with frisee, salt and basil pesto.  Toss to mix well.  Place grilled calamari on top.  Serve.

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Transcripts

Barton Seaver: Hi! I am Barton Seaver. We are messing around with calamari today. So now we have got our vegetables ready. We have got our pesto ready to sauce the whole dish. Let me show you a little bit about the calamari itself. Now the product that we have in front of us here is a fresh, dirty calamari. Dirty is a market term, meaning it hasn't been cleaned yet. Most of the time when you get calamari, the little rings and the little tents that you get in a fried calamari, it is already been cleaned and processed and packaged long before it even gets to the store. This calamari comes right off the boat, never frozen, never processed with any chemicals. This is the whole thing.

Now, it's a little creepy to some people, but they haven't seen it before, but let me tell you, if you try this, you will know instantly why you should only ever eat this kind of calamari. So what I have here is a whole tube of the calamari and you can see a little bit of the ink falling out of here, but this is what's known as the tube. These are the two fins here. We are going to be sauting this up. Now in order to get to this position, what we are going to do is this is the whole squid. Now you see these two long tentacles, those are the feeler tentacles. So just chop those right off and those are going to unusable and then on the top here, you can see it has got that little triangle running right off the top. You want to run your hands, fingers right underneath that and what you are going to be separating is what's known as the quill.

So we are just going to gently pull out what we have just separated which is the whole stomach as well as the head. Now the next thing you need to remove is what I just called the quill which is a really awesome thing until you have seen this before, it's really awesome, but it's this plastic feather that comes right out and it is made out of cartilage, but it is definitely inedible. So you have to remove that. So you remove any and all pieces of that and then what you can do is just gently push up with your finger to make sure you get any of that black, the ink out of there. The ink is the protective mechanism for the calamari. So now we are set ready to go. In order to clean the head here, all you do is just cut right above the eyes and what you are going to do is discard all of that and you are left with the tentacles and you have to remove the beak, that's the mouth of the animal there. If you cut it right, you can just pull it right out. It comes out just as a little ball. So, now we have got our calamari here ready to go. We are going season it up and then in the next segment, we are going to start sauting the calamari and then we are going to be putting the whole dish together.