ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER & WINE/SAKE DIRECTOR of UNI
Harrison has been interested in food since he was very young. Ever since his first pastry internship in the fourth grade, he has found a way to work around the kitchen. Having spent time at Cragie on Main, Clio, and ultimately, UNI, he has been able to learn from some of Boston's best chefs.
Now, as the Assistant General Manager and Wine & Sake Director at UNI, he has crafted a beverage program that showcases Chef Tony Messina's menu of exquisitely prepared sushi. And with the opening of the UNI Clam Shack, there are even more pairings to look forward to.
Self-proclaimed hippie from Colorado and T-Swift lover, Harrison Smith, spent quarantine cooking for roommates and watching his sourdough starter gurgle away in the kitchen the way a lot of us did. But there are only so many recipes to experiment with. As AGM and Director of the Wine and Sake Program at UNI, spare time isn’t part of his regular life. Luckily for us, Harrison is back on the (patio) floor, happy to be averaging ten to twelve miles a day on his step-counter serving wine and sake once again.
When did you first become interested in food and wine?
I’ve always been passionate about food. In fourth grade I had a pastry internship and my dad would drive me to the bakery on Saturdays at 4am. In high school I started working in a restaurant. I spent one day in the kitchen when the owner came up to me and said, “you’ll do fine back here, but you should be out front.” In college I worked at Craigie on Main and came to Clio six years ago before it was UNI and have been running the wine and sake program for three years. I didn’t know anything about sake until I started working at UNI. I still joke that I thought all sake tasted the same before I got here.
How has your perspective changed when you’re on the floor now?
It’s been really cathartic to get back to basics. Because of new limitations we stopped Oshibori towel service and tableside liquid nitrogen cocktails. It’s been nice to strip a lot of that away and focus on quality service. Reopening felt like opening a brand-new restaurant. We reinvented so many of our systems. We never used to do take-out because we were focused on the “dining room experience.” But now we do as much as possible.
What’s your favorite sake right now?
Definitely Fukucho “Moon on the Water.” I’m really passionate about it because it’s a female toji and there are only about 30 female tojis in Japan. It’s so elegant and unique.