Chef Katie Button draws her inspiration from an unconventional path that began in a science laboratory and led her to the kitchen. Now, as executive chef for Cúrate and its around-the-corner restaurant neighbor, Nightbell in Asheville, North Carolina, she inspires others to take the road less traveled.
After earning a BioMaster’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from L’Ecole Centrale in Paris and before entering the Neuroscience PhD program that would launch her on an academic research career, she stopped and took a detour. That path led her back to her roots as the daughter of an accomplished caterer in the metropolitan New York area. It was then that Chef Button decided to embark on a culinary career.
Along the way, she worked in José Andrés’ restaurants in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, CA, and with Chef Johnny Iuzzini at Jean Georges in New York, before heading to Spain and the world-renowned elBulli where she completed a seven-month internship in the kitchen of Ferran Adrià. It is this unique world view that infuses Chef Button’s creations at Cúrate, where her work as executive chef has earned national acclaim for its Spanish authenticity and creativity, and at Nightbell, which opened in February 2014 featuring a menu of innovative American cuisine complimented by choice selections of cocktails, wine, beer and spirits.
Her already distinguished culinary career includes being named a finalist for the James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year Award 2014, and a semi-finalist for Best Chef Southeast in 2015. Chef Button was named a Best New Chef in 2015 by Food & Wine. In 2012, Master Chef José Andrés selected her as his nominee for the “Top New Artist of the Next Generation” for the Robb Report Culinary Masters Competition. National coverage of both Cúrate and Nightbell includes feature stories in Garden & Gun, Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Marie Claire, Elle, Southern Living, Food Arts, Local Palate, Robb Report, and The New York Times. In 2013, Cúrate made GQ Magazine’s list of “Twelve Most Outstanding Restaurants.” Currently, Chef Button can be seen on Fox TV and National Geographic Travel channel in Europe, Asia and Australia as the host of the new series, “The World’s Best Chefs”.
With all of this to her credit, it is no surprise that there is a cookbook in the works. Chef Button’s first cookbook, which is being issued by Flatiron Books in 2016, will celebrate the broad appeal of Spanish cooking and show readers how to re-create and adapt classic dishes in the home kitchen using seasonal local ingredients.