Even more than it does for most people, elBulli changed Katie Button’s life. After leaving a promising career in biomedical research, she took a job waiting tables at Café Atlántico in Washington, DC. where she met several visiting members of elBulli’s staff, including maître d’ Felix Meana. Felix convinced her to do a front-of-house stage at elBulli, and while there in the summer of 2008, she fell in love not only with him, but with the cuisine that the restaurant produced. Before that season was over, she convinced Albert Adria to let her come back the following year as a stagiaire in pastry. Tonight, she and Felix, who are now engaged, open their new restaurant, Cúrate, in Asheville, North Carolina.
What was your initial impression of Ferran?
I was so nervous! When you meet him for the first time, he seems so serious. You feel in awe of him. And then see him outside the restaurant, and he’s so friendly. But you know what? He still makes me nervous.
As a server, did you interact with him much?
The first thing they teach you when you start working is how to come into the kitchen. You approach the pass, and have to stand at a certain distance from Ferran or Eduard or whomever is expediting. You have to clearly express what you want, and then move down the line and get a tray ready with plates. Then you wait. You look at the expediter. You repeat back what he’s saying. If you didn’t speak loudly or clearly enough—he would get upset. That was always Ferran’s thing. I would go up there and practically salute. Read the rest of this entry »