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Katie Button; Cúrate, Asheville, NC
Plenty of chefs name-check the influence of the Spanish brothers Ferran and Albert Adrià. Not many can credit them as directly as Katie Button. Her story begins in Washington, DC, after she quit her PhD program in neuroscience and began waitressing at José Andrés’s restaurant Minibar. Through Andrés, she got an internship at the Adriàs’ El Bulli. Their first American server, Button waited on VIPs like Barbra Streisand and Alice Waters. She went home to get intensive dessert training, then returned for a nearly impossible-to-get position in El Bulli’s pastry kitchen. Back to the US for good, Button launched Cúrate, with a menu of sublime tapas that synthesize local and Spanish flavors, like Carolina clams cooked in Asturian cider with chorizo. She’s proud to bring the Adrià spirit to the North Carolina hills. “Gin and tonics are like oxygen to Spain, but you have to have quality gin and quality tonic water,” she says. “At Cúrate we serve the ultimate G&T. It’s garnished with fuchsias, but the key is Fever-Tree tonic from the UK; that was actually Ferran’s discovery.”