Katie Button has worked in restaurants all over the world — New York City, Los Angeles; Paris; Roses, Spain; Washington D.C. — but she chose Asheville for her first restaurant, Cúrate, a Spanish tapas bar.
“Asheville is a city where people move to make their dreams come true, to do what they love and are passionate about,” she says. “I think that is palpable in the city, in the restaurants. It's this thing nobody can quite put their finger on.”
Button's dreams have materialized in the form of two world-class restaurants, which she owns with her family. At her newest, Nightbell, she serves playfully interpreted American favorites (think poached-to-order lobster rolls) and inventive cocktails. She displays modernist techniques, learned at elBulli (for many years, the world's best restaurant), through complex candies and liquid nitrogen-kissed concoctions.
While Asheville is proud to have Button, she would have risen to the top of her profession in any city. During her travels, she worked for José Andrés, Ferran Adrià and Johnny Iuzzini, some of the world's top chefs. Since Cúrate opened in 2011, she's been nominated for the James Beard Award four times.
She credits her success to ingredients, many of which come from local farms. The restaurant even partnered with a nearby pepper grower to produce piquillo peppers, which are typically grown in Spain. “My food philosophy is about the ingredients first,” she says. “I'm always looking for the best products. From there, I tend to treat them pretty simply because if you start with a great product it doesn't need a whole lot more.”