Eric Enrique, who was the opening chef at Eddie V’s on Sand Lake Road, has moved west on Restaurant Row to take over at Big Fin Seafood Kitchen. Enrique replaces James Slattery, who was the opening chef there.
Philippe Villain, Big Fin’s co-owner, confirmed the personnel change in a phone call Monday. He said he is excited to take Big Fin to the next level up, though he said, “We are going to stay primarily seafood,” but he sees the flavor profiles getting more innovative. “We’re not going froufrou or haute cuisine,” he said. “We have no intention of jacking up our prices.”
Enrique, 45, has been with the Eddie V’s since before it was purchased by Darden Restaurants, in 2013. He moved to Orlando to open the Sand Lake Road restaurant from Scottsdale, Ariz.
Enrique said he has not made any changes to Big Fin’s menu yet, though he is reexamining sources and purveyors. He said a new menu may come out in a month, but will not be a drastic change. “You’ve got to be sensitive to the locals and the dishes they really love.”
Villain said he wanted to make improvements at Big Fin in anticipation of changes along Restaurant Row. “Sand Lake Road’s going to get very competitive,” he said. “Norman’s is coming in,” Villain said of Norman Van Aken’s upscale restaurant that will be Big Fin’s neighbor at the Dellagio Plaza. “The game’s going to get elevated.”
Of Slattery, who had been with Big Fin since it opened in 2009, Villain said, “He’s obviously a great chef but we needed to take a big step up in innovation.”
“Change is never fun, but we needed to move forward.”
Replacing Enrique at Eddie V’s is Matt Schmalle, who is moving from Darden’s Stamfod Capital Grille where he has worked for 15 years.