Ray of Light - Katie Button
Our series profiling extraordinary women who are ever-evolving in life and style.
EE: Let's rewind! You studied engineering and graduated with a masters. You're about to start a PhD program…
KB: I applied for the PhD program because I couldn't get an engineering job. Turns out when you're not that passionate about something, you don't interview well! A couple weeks before I was supposed to start, I dropped out. I had been researching culinary schools and was dreaming about cooking. But I needed to find a job first and the only restaurant that would hire me was one of José Andrés' [award-winning Spanish chef] restaurants in Washington D.C. That was my intro to Spain and Spanish food—and why later in life I would meet my now husband who's from Spain; why I would go live in Spain for a couple of years, working at El Bulli, one of the best restaurants in the world. And why I would move back to the U.S. and open a Spanish restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina. It all happened because one person took a chance and hired me as a waiter.
EE: You were finally in a restaurant…
KB: I started working in the front of the house, but I spent a lot of time in the kitchen talking to the chefs. I loved seeing the beautiful, detailed food they were creating and learning from them really reaffirmed that I wanted to be on the other side. I realized none of the work felt monotonous—it all was exciting. Despite how hard it was and how long the hours were, every day I wanted to get up and go back. I knew I was on the right path.
EE: And that path took you from chef to CEO.
KB: After we opened two restaurants in Asheville, I was dreaming of how to continue growing and that's when we came up with our ecommerce business and wine club. I love cooking but I've realized I also love leading our team, and this transition into CEO of the business has been so fulfilling.
EE: How did your Magnolia Network show, From The Source, come to fruition?
KB: They reached out to me a couple of years ago when they were developing the network and it feels like fate that this opportunity came my way. The concept comes from my love of learning and going out and visiting people who are growing and producing raw ingredients. I'm fascinated by the work they do; they are at the start of every dish I create. I wanted to share the stories of their passion, drive, care and attention. And in each episode, I do the work myself—whether it's milking cows or fishing off a commercial boat—so viewers can really appreciate how hard it is! I finish by cooking with the ingredient, which is so fun for me.
EE: What does a forward-moving mindset mean to you?
KB: It means to never stop learning and growing. There's never been a time where I've sat back and thought, ‘Things are running well, we're good!'. Never. I am always thinking of new ways to improve, whether it's the experience for our guests, the training of our employees, growing the business… I never stop thinking about what's next.