Environmental news website Grist.org named Asheville’s Chef Katie Button one of the “50 People You’ll Be Talking About in 2016.” Her dedication to environmentally-friendly business methods and sustainable food sources made her a perfect choice for this recognition.
Grist interviewed Chef Katie, co-owner and executive chef of Cúrate Tapas Bar and Nightbell in downtown Asheville:
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.
Cúrate has a three-star Green Certification, as well. Staff members at Cúrate and Nightbell divert as much waste from landfills as possible through a dedicated recycling program. Food waste and paper products are composted with the help of local company Danny’s Dumpster.
The list of local and regional food used at Chef Button’s restaurants is long and changes seasonally, but includes Asheville mainstays Sunburst Trout and Rise Up Rooted Farm. The restaurants stay clean and green thanks to Green Bamboo products.
As 2016 progresses, Chef Button and Heirloom Hospitality Group will continue their commitment to the environment and the community through conscious business practices.