LaPlace Louisiana Cookery, the Hillsborough restaurant offering New Orleans-inspired fare, has hired a restaurant veteran as its new executive chef.
Christopher McLaurin, formerly the sous chef at Picnic in Durham, started in the LaPlace kitchen this week. It is his first job as an executive chef.
Dean James, co-founder of First We Eat Restaurant Group with Matt Fox, said McLaurin’s talents fit well with the ethos of LaPlace. First We Eat manages LaPlace, the Wooden Nickel Pub and Bona Fide Sandwich Co., all in downtown Hillsborough.
“Having known Chris personally for several years, his genuine passion for food and drink was well known to us,” James said. “LaPlace was created to merge a cherished cuisine from a place we love and respect with the bounty that our town possesses. Chris shares those interests and sensibilities, and we’re beyond thrilled to have him on board.”
McLaurin moved to the Triangle from Washington with his husband in 2013, partly because of the area’s growing food scene. He studied at L’Academie du Cuisine outside Washington before getting a job under Chef Johnny Monis at the renowned D.C. eatery Komis.
In the Triangle, McLaurin worked as a baker at Rose’s Meat Market & Sweet Shoppe and as a bartender at the now-closed Bar Lusconi wine bar before becoming sous chef at Picnic.
McLaurin said in an email he always has been a fan of Fox, the LaPlace co-owner.
“He has created these special places where regulars and first-timers alike feel welcome and leave satisfied and happy,” he said.
“Food should bring people together,” he said. “A meal with friends and family is a chance to unwind from a long day, share stories and enjoy what you eat and drink. I have always worked at small places because we can get to know our customers and gain their trust. This allows for more creativity and better experiences.”
Diners can expect the same classic Cajun dishes they’ve come to love, and McLaurin plans on highlighting what he calls “North Carolina’s amazing bounty from the coast to the mountains.”
He plans to start serving a family-style Sunday supper.
“This is where the team can come together and play with the cuisine in new and fun ways while continuing to create a warm sense of community for our patrons,” McLaurin said.
Info: LaPlace Louisiana Cookery is at 111 North Churton St., Hillsborough. The restaurant serves dinner Tuesday through Saturday and brunch Saturday and Sunday mornings. It is closed Sunday evenings and Mondays. Go to www.laplacehillsborough.com.
Matt Lardie is a Durham-based freelance writer. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @matt_lardie.