Berenjenas La Taberna
by Cúrate Chef Katie Button
Flour, all purpose
Rosemary, fresh and local
Eggplant Preparation - Cut tops and bottoms off each eggplant and peel. Slice eggplant(s) 1/2 inch thick. As you slice the eggplant put into a large container with enough milk to cover. You will likely have to weigh the eggplant down to keep it submerged in the milk. Soak overnight.
Frying - Heat a frying pan with vegetable oil (enough to cover the eggplant slices – don’t crowd the pan) until 350 degrees or when a drop of water splatters. When ready to serve, dredge the eggplant in flour and tap off excess flour. Drop into oil and fry until golden brown (not too dark), you may need turn the eggplant for even browning.
Plating - Salt the eggplant as it comes out of the fryer. Drain on wire rack. Squeeze honey onto the fried eggplant while on the wire rack. Drizzle some honey on each serving plate, and top each piece of eggplant with 2-3 rosemary leaves.
Serve 2 slices per person
In 2007, Katie Button, Cornell University graduate with a master's degree from L'Ecole Centrale in Paris, France, was about to start a prestigious PhD program in Neuroscience between the NIH in Bethesda, MD and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. Instead she decided to drop out of the PhD program in pursuit of passion, life, and happiness. Food had always been an important part of her childhood. Her mother, Elizabeth Button, developed and ran her own catering business. So it wasn't too far of a reach that she decided to get into the restaurant industry. In order to support herself and pay the rent on her apartment in Washington DC, she sought out a job at a restaurant called Cafe Atlántico/Minibar in Washington DC one of José Andrés' amazing restaurants. Katie describes it as fate that brought her to the doorstep of a José Andrés restaurant. It was there that she fell in love with restaurants, food, cooking, and Félix Meana, a service manager from elBulli, Ferran Adrià´s famous restaurant in Spain. Félix introduced Katie to Spain, elBulli, and applications for liquid nitrogen outside of the lab.
Katie initially spent 3 months working as the first American server in the history of elBulli. It was there that she made the decision that she really wanted to be on the other side, with her hands in the dishes, creating, so she set out to prove herself. After some time working with Johnny Iuzzini at Jean Georges in New York and then at the Bazaar by José Andrés in Los Angeles, she finally made it. With only a couple of years professional cooking experience, Katie entered a 7 month stage at the best restaurant in the world. That experience changed her life. In January 2010, immediately after finishing her internship at elBulli, she moved to Asheville, North Carolina to focus all of her attention on opening her own restaurant with Félix, her mother Elizabeth Button, and father Ted Button. They have since developed the parent company Heirloom Hospitality Group and opened their first restaurant Cúrate, bar de tapas www.curatetapasbar.com. Katie is the Executive Chef/co-owner of this traditional tapas bar that opened March 2011.
Since the opening of Cúrate, Katie has been recognized as a semi-finalist for the prestigious 2012 James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year Award. She has been selected by Master Chef by José Andrés as his nominee for the “Top New Artist of the Next Generation” for the Robb Report Culinary Masters Competition in Los Angeles September 2012. She was also nominated as a candidate for Food & Wine People’s Best New Chef of the Southeast 2012 and won the Mountain Xpress 2011 and 2012 awards for Top Chef in Western North Carolina. Katie is honored to prepare dinner at the James Beard House in New York City November 2012. The fall of 2012 she is presenting at two prestigious culinary schools, Johnson and Wales in Charlotte NC and the International Culinary Center in NYC. Katie appears in the documentary “Cooking In Progress” a film about the closing of elBulli and the book “The Sorcerer’s Apprentices: A Season in the Kitchen at Ferran Adrià’s elBulli” by Lisa Abend, which highlights Katie’s background, passion, and the trials of working in the elBulli kitchen. Cúrate has received mentions in many publications including GQ Magazine, Afar, Departures, Southern Living, Food Arts, Charleston Magazine, The Charlotte Observer, Local Palate, Robb Report, and The Asheville Citizen Times.
Katie continues her culinary education taking a few weeks each year to travel, learn and seek inspiration from renowned chefs all over the world. Most recently she completed one such experience at a restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark, called Noma, currently ranked the number one restaurant in the world. Katie currently divides most of her time between her restaurant, Cúrate, in Asheville, NC and participating in culinary events across the nation.