Last night my husband and I went to Curate in Asheville, North Carolina for my birthday, and I was scheduled to meet Chef Katie Button. I always go into panic mode when meeting a new chef. Can I say their name correctly? Do I know enough about them? Last night’s big hurdle was learning to pronounce Curate right before I stepped in the door. Four years of Spanish and COO-ru-tay was the best I could do, so we went with it.
Chef Katie is a rock star in my world. She was a James Beard semifinalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year in 2013, for goodness sakes! They don’t hand those nods out to just anyone. She was in full planning mode since her and husband Felix Meana’s second venture, a speakeasy of sorts they are calling The Nightbell, is slated to open in Asheville February 2. But, she did take some time to talk with me and I was so thankful!
The James Beard Awards, in case you are wondering, are like the Oscars of the food world. I’m always glued to my Twitter feed during finalist announcements and during the Awards Ceremony. I cheer our Carolina chefs and authors on like I’m there. (Strangeness confirmed.)
I feel like I am systematically checking off every restaurant on Biltmore Ave in Asheville. In the past two months I’ve hit Chestnut and Posana, too. The more I get to know the talent in Asheville, the more I am absolutely floored. Did you know Asheville made Forbes Travel Guide’s Five Secret Foodie Cities list? Of course, Curate and French Broad Chocolate were mentioned in the write up.
We were ushered to two stools at the end of the bar overlooking the wide open kitchen, last night. They are totally the best seats in the house, though you can’t go wrong with any seat at the marble bar. You are front and center to all the action. I counted six chefs working stations at the slowest time last night. I swear there had to have been 10 or 12 people behind the bar cooking and fixing and shaking and delivering at one point. They were butt to butt but it was pure magic.
My husband ordered the Curate Manhattan with a crazy liquid cherry in the bottom! A blog post is seriously not enough space to go into the science behind the food served here. I was so torn between the Sangria they make tableside and a simple glass of red, so I handed the decision over to our server/bartender, Jessica, and she picked out an awesome glass of red, a 2008 Beronia Reserva. I loved it so much, I had a second glass! (The whole finger pointing at the item thing was a last minute decision. I hope you find it helpful if you want to hunt down a bottle.)
I always like to see what other people are ordering before I make a decision. The thing is, everything headed off the line looked so beautiful! I couldn’t choose. We left it up to the chef and our server, and they totally rocked it out.