The Restaurateur

Katie Button

Job:Owner and executive chef, Cúrate and Nightbell
Age:32
Reps:Asheville, NC
Follow:@chefkatiebutton

Green cred: Button once turned down a prestigious neuroscience doctorate program to work at Ferran Adrià’s world famous El Bulli in Spain. We say: good choice. A James Beard award nominee for four straight years, Button draws inspiration from her peers in Asheville, N.C., aka the Portland of the South. “Being here in Asheville, we inspire each other to be as sustainable as we can and continue to improve and push ourselves in that department,” she says.

For her restaurants, the Spanish-flavored Cúrate and restaurant/lounge Nightbell, Button cultivates relationships with local farmers and producers and makes sure food waste is sorted and scooped up by a local composting company. She’s working on becoming non-GMO certified, too.

“As you buy more sustainable local produce and proteins and things direct from farmers that you know, you naturally end up buying non-GMO products,” she says.

What to expect in 2016: The Cúrate cookbook, due out in the fall.

Equal pay: Button’s two restaurants are Living Wage Certified, meaning “everyone down to the dishwasher” gets paid a living wage for Asheville. Employees will also get health insurance for the first time this year.

Photograph by Evan Sung