The culinary world almost lost a great talent to biomedical engineering. That’s the PhD course Katie Button had been pursuing when she abruptly decided to change careers, and follow her passion for food into the restaurant business. She scored her first restaurant job working in a front of house role, but the knowledgeable foodie quickly found her way into the kitchen, and never looked back.
We’re so glad she did! Button is now recognized among the top American chefs cooking Spanish cuisine, and her Ashville, North Carolina restaurant Cúrate Bar de Tapas is routinely hailed as one of the finest Spanish restaurants in the nation.
Food & Wine magazine has named Cúrate in its list of the “40 Most Important Restaurants of the Past 40 Years,” while Esquire followed up, calling it one of the “Most Important Restaurants of the Decade.” Thanks to a killer wine list, featuring many resplendent Spanish wines and sherries, the magazine Wine Enthusiast has additionally called Cúrate one of the “100 Best Wine Restaurants”.
A multiple time James Beard nominee, Button says her introduction to Spanish cooking was a great stroke of luck. That first restaurant to hire her happened to be operated by globally revered Spanish chef, José Andrés.
But chef Button did not merely learn from one Spanish master — after working in chef José Andrés’ kitchens, she moved on to Roses, Spain to cook at three Michelin star restaurant elBulli, led by an icon of contemporary Spanish cuisine, the legendary chef Ferran Adrià.
Having garnered such experiences in the world’s finest Spanish kitchens, chef Button could have found success opening a Spanish restaurant within any of America’s best food cities. However, Button was originally a child of the South, so she chose the burgeoning cultural hotspot of Ashville, North Carolina to make her mark. And make a mark she did. Along with all the national accolades, Button and her restaurant helped establish Asheville as a food destination in its own right.
Once the pandemic settled in, Button and husband/partner Félix Meana expanded Cúrate’s reach to a national audience by launching Cúrate At Home. Through their web site, they ship prized ingredients sourced from Spain, as well at products created in the Cúrate kitchen. Thus Spanish food fans may order the likes of Cúrate-made albondigas, gazpacho, and pincho moruno (lamb skewers) shipped to their door, along with Spanish olive oils, Spanish cheeses, or even an entire, acorn-fed Ibérico ham!
This effort informed the cooking demonstration chef Button led at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic 2021, showcasing how easy it is to prepare authentic and delicious Spanish tapas at home, provided you have the right ingredients! The fantastic presentation proved one of the venerated festival’s best, and if you re-watch it on the Foods and Wines from Spain Facebook page, you will notice that chef Katie Button is a natural in front of the camera!
In fact, as her renown has grown, chef Button has found a new level of fame as a TV chef. She has previously hosted the National Geographic series The World’s Best Chefs, going behind the scenes with several of the globe’s top cooking talents. Next up, she will take a deep dive into the origins and sourcing of the world’s best loved ingredients with a new show, titled The Katie Button Project. The show will soon premiere on Chip and Joanna Gaines’ new Magnolia Network, on Discover+, and will see chef Button seek out her favorite ingredients and show us how to cook with them. We can’t wait to see what exciting adventures the chef has in store for us!