The Daily Meal caught up with chef Katie Button at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival to learn about how her travels have influenced her work. Button is the chef/owner of Curaté in Asheville, N.C., and was a semi-finalist for this year’s Rising Star Chef of the Year award from the James Beard Foundation. She is heavily influenced by Spanish cuisine and has worked with both José Andrés at Café Atlántico and minibar in Washington, D.C., as well as with Ferran Adrià at elBulli.
The Daily Meal: What has been your most inspirational food experience while traveling?
Katie Button: Copenhagen, Denmark. I went there for a three-week internship at Noma and left with greater view on what is included in the edible food world. Even though I was there in the cold month of February, we were still foraging for products like Douglas fir needles and the roots of frost bitten dandelion plants. And it’s not just Noma — I saw this trend all over Copenhagen. They view and use ingredients in a different way than I have been used to.
TDM: What’s your favorite kitchen souvenir from your travels?
KB: On my last trip to Spain I visited the culinary equipment and ingredients shop Sole Graells in Barcelona. That shop is like Candy Land for culinary professionals. I left with bags of amazing ingredients like mint extract powder and some things in the line of textural products not available in United States. I couldn't fit any of it in my suitcase on the way back, so I had to carry it all on the plane with me. Going through security at the airport with large canisters of different powders was interesting. I was so worried that they were going to make me part with something.
TDM: If you could eat your way through one country, which one would it be and why?
KB: SPAIN! If you believe it or not, I have yet to eat my way through Spain and I have a Spanish tapas restaurant! Maybe the mistake is that I married a Spaniard so when we pick our vacations we usually pick other countries even though obviously Spain is very near and dear to my heart! I spent most of my time in the Barcelona and Costa Brava region working and haven't had the opportunity to truly travel. What is so interesting about Spain is that each region has its own unique food culture; some of them even have their own languages. I would love to have the opportunity to visit Galicia, Asturias, the Basque Country, Malaga, Sevilla, Jerez, Cadiz, Granada, the Balearic islands, the Canary Islands... the list goes on and on.