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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 Make a Batuta - Spiced Paste

This video will show how to make a spiced paste called a Batuta.

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How to Make a Batuta - Spiced Paste

Ingredients


1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled

1 small onion, peeled and quartered

2 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed

1 ½ tsp. smoked paprika

About ¾ c extra virgin olive oil

2 lbs. farmed mussels, washed and debearded

¾ 1 t kosher salt

½ lb chorizo sausage

3 cups white wine

zest and juice of 2 limes

1/4 c cilantro leaves, finely chopped

Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

1. In a blender or food processor, combine garlic, onion, peppers and paprika.  Drizzle in ½ cup of olive oil until well blended into a fine paste.  Add 1-2 tablespoons of oil if necessary.

 

2. Add sausage to a large stockpot and cook for 5 minutes.  Stir in spice paste and kosher salt and cook 3 minutes more, or until it no longer smells of raw onion. 

 

3. Add mussels and white wine and bring to a simmer.  Cover pot and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until all mussels have opened.  (If any mussels do not open, you can put them back into cooking liquid for 2 minutes more. If they do not open, discard).  Just before serving, mix in fresh lime juice.

 

4. Divide into 4 bowls, garnishing with lime zest, cilantro and freshly ground pepper.  Serve with toasted french bread.

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Transcripts

Barton Seaver: Hi! I am Barton Seaver and today, we are cooking with mussels. In this segment, we are going to be showing you how to make a Batuta. It's a spiced paste. This is reminiscent of the Portuguese fishing communities in there, their rich, hearty flavorful cuisine. So we have got a couple of the traditional ingredients from them. We are going to start of with a little bit of fennel seed. Now this is a -- we just can take it about two teaspoons of this. Drop that into a blender. We then have a little bit of ground coriander seed. You can either use whole or ground. So again, about two teaspoons of that goes into there and then we have a little bit of smoked paprika. This is a Spanish ingredient, but this is absolutely fantastic. It is not the same as Hungarian or just regular paprika. It has been smoke roasted as it has been dried and has just a magical flavor to it. I absolutely, absolutely love it. So we are just going to put four teaspoons of that into this. Now it's important to get this as ground up as possible. However, little chunks of the fennel seeds in there are okay. So we are just going to turn our blender on. It's just going to be into pulverized -- those fennel seeds. So once you get that done, what you are going to do is take about a half of one medium onion that I have chopped up right here, we are going to throw that into the blender. Got about one head of garlic or five large, six large cloves of garlic, throw that in there as well and we are going to use some vegetable oil. Now you want to use vegetable oil instead of olive oil in this because the olive oil will begin to aerate and it will change the color in it will hold the air as it begins to puree.

So now we have got that in there, turn it on a low speed and you can see instantly that paprika which is oil soluble gets mixed in there. So we are just looking to form a very thick paste and that's going to become the base of the sauce and be cooked in with the Chorizo and the white wine. So we are stirring that up. Now we are good to go. Alright, in this next segment, we are going to start cooking the mussels with the Chorizo, render the fat out of that and then put the whole dish together. Let's go.