There are as many cautionary tales about working with family as there are about opening a new restaurant. Fortunately, chef Katie Button, of the family owned and operated Cúrate Bar de Tapas, has never been afraid to turn a narrative on its head.
Button was on her way to a PhD in neurosciences when she changed course completely and took a job as a server at José Andrés’ Café Atlántico in Washington, DC. With an eye towards the kitchen, this led to stints at his Los Angeles restaurants, a pastry internship at Jean Georges with chef Johnny Iuzzini, and most famously, a stage at elBulli. It was there that she found herself in the middle of someone else’s story, figuring prominently in Lisa Abend’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentices: A Season at Ferran Adria’s elBulli.
It was a leap of faith Button couldn’t have taken without her family - parents Elizabeth and Ted Button and husband (then fiancée) Félix Meana - and they all came together to open Cúrate in the Asheville, NC in 2011.
“The idea of opening a family restaurant was really special to [my mother]. Particularly since my husband was also in the restaurant industry - he worked at elBulli in the front of the house for five years,”explains Button. “We realized that each of us in our family had a piece of the puzzle and if we came together we could probably make it happen.”
It was Elizabeth who thought of the name curate, with its connotations of preserving tradition, that her Spanish son-in-law Félix read as cúrate or ‘cure yourself’. Deciding they liked it both ways, the name stuck.
They were soon drawn to Asheville. “The music scene, the art scene, the local farmers, the mountains, everything the city has to offer for the population size is just unbelievable,” Button said. “A lot of people who move here, move here to seek out their passion which I think is really special and unique.”
Given Button’s training and Meana’s background, they decided to open a tapas bar serving simple, product focused Spanish dishes. “If we’re going to be authentic, we want to bring what modern Spain is, what Spain is to us, what Barcelona is all about,” Button said.
Next, what the future holds for Button and Cúrate...