Seaver Steps Down at Hook

Barton Seaver at Hook in 2007.
Barton Seaver at Hook in 2007. (By Marvin Joseph -- The Washington Post)
Wednesday, July 2, 2008

It was a week of highs and lows for chef Barton Seaver. On Wednesday, news leaked out that he had parted ways with Hook, the sustainable-seafood restaurant in Georgetown that gained him national prominence. On Sunday, he was named rising culinary star by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington for his work at Hook.

Neither Seaver nor Hook's owner, Jonathan Umbel, would comment on the acrimonious split except to say that lawyers were working out the details of Seaver's contract.

Still, in accepting his award in front of 1,600 guests at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, Seaver appeared to try to answer critics who whispered that he had put his own career ahead of the everyday running of the restaurant. He invited Hook's new executive chef, Joshua Whigham, to join him on stage and said, "Nothing that we do is the work of one person."

In an interview, Seaver said he had "the utmost respect for Hook, the work the staff has done and the future that Hook is going to have." He said he has not decided what he will do next but has no intention of leaving Washington and is "possibly looking to augment" his involvement with D.C. Central Kitchen.

"It was great to have a stage to formulate a lot of these ideas about sustainability and drive the business" at Hook, he said. "But I really believe that sustainability is not about a few white-tablecloth chefs providing an example. It's about making it accessible to everyone."

-- Jane Black

© 2008 The Washington Post Company