To ring in the new year, Chef Samaniego has a seven course ode to Charlie Trotter planned. I got a hold of the menu, for your consideration. It is a late seating, which includes a champagne toast. Please contact the restaurant for pricing and reservations.
1st course: Bay scallop crudo, celery apple salad, lovage
2nd course: Smoked salmon and crab terrine, Swiss chard kimchi
3rd course: Heirloom squash soup, crispy sweetbreads, herbed spatzle
4th course: Glazed pork belly, black eyed peas, haricot vert, spicy curry espuma
5th course: Roasted venison loin, rutabega gnocchi, roasted rutabega
OR Pan roasted monkfish, salsify, broccoli rabe, burdock puree
6th course: Chocolate mousse
7th course: Citrus
Read our interview with Eric Samaniego of Little Sparrow, part one.
And now, on to part two . . .
When I worked for David Myers, we were taught that nothing was impossible. We would attack every service, every challenge at full speed, running through brick walls to “make it happen.” For line cooks, it is a great way to learn on your feet and build confidence. Things change when you become a chef. You need to have more of a calming, in control presence about you. It was tough for me to make that transition from a crazy line cook, to sous chef, and then to an executive chef.
When you're not in the kitchen, what are you doing?
I'm at home spending time with my wife and kids. My three-year-old son just started ice skating to get ready for hockey. So on Saturday mornings I get to watch him skate before I head into work. My daughter has been doing ballet for several years, and I love watching her dance.
Last song playing on your radio:
Wet Sand by Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Where did you grow up?
I was actually born in Orange, and lived all over Southern California until I was about eight. Then my Dad moved us to Visalia, where we lived until I left for culinary school. It's a small farm town, about 30 minutes south of Fresno. Since moving back to California eight years ago, I've lived in Whittier.
Are you superstitious?
Not really. The only thing I'm weird about is if I spill some salt. I throw some over my shoulder. That's it.
What were you up to five years ago?
I was a sous chef at Comme Ca in West Hollywood. I worked there for five years, and a total of seven working for David Myers.
Who photographs your social media?
All of the pics on my Instagram account I take. I also try to upload as many of those pics as I can to the restaurant's website. Bruce (one of the owners) takes most of the pictures for the restaurant's Facebook page. I was really late to the digital age. I bought my first smart phone after I started working at Little Sparrow.
Last movie watched; what did you think?
Catching Fire. My wife and I had a date night last week. She read all of the books and loves them. I thought it was okay.
Do you have any non-food skills?
Plumbing. We bought a house about two years ago, and I have already had to replace toilets, change pipes, etc. My son liked to flush things down the toilet when he was younger.
Last thing you searched for.
Restaurants in San Francisco. I went for my birthday. I tried to get into Rich Table, but they had a buyout that night. So my wife, my best friend and I are going to Central Kitchen and Trick Dog.