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Speculation went on for months after Chef Eric Samaniego was let go from Little Sparrow last July. We saw him participating in collaboration dinners, heard rumors of being linked to Vaca and was spotted doing some butchering at Electric City. Most recently, we crossed paths with Eric at OC Weekly's Fresh Toast. Yet the question remained, "Where was he headed next?"
Then we heard something that seemed too good to be true, so we went straight to the source for answers. Samaniego confirmed last week that for the past two months he's been in the kitchen of Michael's on Naples as Chef de Cuisine, under the guidance of Executive Chef David Coleman. A chance meeting while having coffee with Provisions Market's Greg Daniels, Coleman would soon vet Eric for the position in Michael's kitchen left vacant for over a year in Long Beach. Per Samaniego,
After an extraordinary year in which I experienced some of my life's greatest highs and lowest lows, I am excited to have finally found the right place to lay down some roots. Luckily I have great friends like Greg Daniels. Otherwise, I might still be looking for work. I am looking forward to the challenge of learning everything about Italian cuisine and culture.
Renovations to Michael's on Naples will take place in the next month, with a temporary closure so dining room upgrades both downstairs and up can occur. Eric, you may have left OC, but diners know it's just a freeway away from dinner.