Chef Lawrence Kocurek
Head Chef and General Manager at Hunter’s Head Tavern
Chef Lawrence blends family heritage and locally sourced ingredients
“Virginia has a great local food scene!”
Lawrence Kocurek is a man who knows meat. “My family always cooked, my grandfather and father taught me to hunt and fish, clean, cook, and smoke meats,” says Chef Lawrence, a Texas native. “We also gardened and canned our own vegetables.” That heritage carried over into a successful culinary career in the Austin area where Chef Lawrence was known for his charcuterie.
“My wife (now a retired sommelier and current homeschooling mom) and I started making charcuterie on our days off from work and that is really where the love began,” says Chef. “I grew up around family members that were smoking meats, making pickles, and preserving fruit in jams. I do some charcuterie at Hunters Head, mostly pates and mousses using the meat from our farm.”
Guilty Pleasure Snack: Popcorn
Favorite Meal as a Child: Fried catfish
Most Essential Item in the Kitchen: The Dishwasher – person not the machine
The One Condiment You Can’t Live Without: Mayo
Talking “real food” with Chef Lawrence Kocurek from Hunter’s Head Tavern
Your grandfather and his love of nature had a profound influence on your cooking. Who are some other influences?
“My mother and grandmother had a big influence on me. Watching Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Justin Wilson, and John Folse on PBS as a kid also greatly influenced my love for cooking.”
How did you make your way to Virginia and Hunter’s Head Tavern?
“I left Austin to take a break from cooking and become a duck and goose farmer in Kentucky. I was burned out at the time and needed to start anew. Once I transitioned, I realized that I still had passion for being a chef and I began to look for a new role at a company that mirrored my own values around food.”
The Hunter’s Head Tavern Dining Experience
“Visiting Hunters Head Tavern is an experience like no other,” says Chef Lawrence. “Our pub is in a building that is more than 250 years old and was originally a public house in the 1750’s. Sourcing products from our own farm allows us to have control over the quality of the meats we serve as well as a direct connection to the local community and agriculture.”
“We make all of our own sausages, bacon, ham, and smoked turkey in-house as well,” continues Chef. “We have several unique dining rooms that feature original fixtures and fireplaces. In the Spring, Summer, and Fall, we offer outdoor dining on our beautiful, pet-friendly patio.”
Farm fresh ingredients
What are your thoughts on Virginia’s locally sourced food scene?
“Virginia has a great local food scene! Coming from Texas, a place that lacks four seasons and begins to hit the hundreds as early as April, it is a great place to grow food. I personally have an 1/8 acre garden planted. I unfortunately don’t get to work in the garden as much as I would like, but my wife and three kids tend to it quite well.”
Besides getting ingredients from Ayrshire Farm and other local farms, what else influences what you put on the menu?
“In addition to traditional pub fare, we dedicate a section of our menu to farm table specials. It’s changed seasonally and we use it to showcase the best local ingredients, including seasonal produce and other items that may have a fleeting window of availability, such as soft shell crabs, asparagus, heirloom tomatoes, or ramps.”
Favorite parts of being a chef
What’s your favorite part of being chef at Hunter’s Head?
“Well, I am not only the Chef for Hunters Head but the General Manager as well. My favorite part is having an impact on all aspects of the operation. Being able to manage the front and back of the house is really fulfilling.”