How I Got Here: Sam Harrison

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

How I Got Here: Sam Harrison
The restaurateur ran Sam's Brasserie in Chiswick and Harrison's in Balham for a decade until 2015. He will open Sam's Riverside in Hammersmith this summer.

Why restaurants?
My godmother had her own catering business, and I worked for her when I was a teenager. I admired the teamwork and her passion for delivering for her customers. I realised how much I loved food and enjoyed working with people.

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
Although front of house is my passion, I wish I had spent more time working in kitchens.

What do you do in your spare time?
I very much enjoy eating out and trying new places. It’s vital for me to balance that with a focus on health and wellbeing, and yoga has also become very important for me.

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your current one)?
I think the teams behind Primeur, Western’s Laundry and Jolene are very clever but my all-time favourite is still J Sheekey.

What would you be doing if you weren’t in restaurants?
I might have gone into advertising. I did some summer work experience when I was at school and loved the whole agency set-up.

What motivates you?
Delivering genuine hospitality.

Where was your last holiday?
I went to Sri Lanka over New Year’s - such a beautiful country, with incredible food and wonderfully friendly people.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
Definitely my time working for Rick and Jill Stein. Their passion for the business, and always wanting to improve and be the best you can, was infectious.

What keeps you up at night?
Thinking about all I need to do pre-opening my new restaurant!

Worst business decision?
Maybe opening my second restaurant (Harrison’s in Balham) a bit too soon. My first restaurant (Sam’s Brasserie in Chiswick) had been open less than 2 years. We weren’t quite ready as a team for the next step.

Best business decision?
Opening my first restaurant. At the time I nearly took a full-time role working for another operator and I’m so pleased I had the confidence and support from others to open my own place.

What are you reading at the moment?
The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair, by Joël Dicker.

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
Throw yourself into all opportunities. Find a good mentor and learn from them.

If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
I would like to see the art of front of house/ hospitality given more focus/ credit/ attention.

CV

  • Born in London 1973
  • Educated at Eton College and in then studied Hotel & Catering Management at Oxford Brookes University
  • 1997-2001- General Manager, Rick Stein Restaurants, Padstow
  • 2001-2003- Various restaurant roles, Sydney
  • 2005- Opened Sam’s Brasserie in Chiswick
  • 2007- Opened Harrison’s in Balham
  • 2015- Sold both restaurant to Hawksmoor/ Foxlow Restaurants
  • 2019- Opening Sam’s Riverside in Hammersmith

Related topics: People

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