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Q&A: From Wine Director to Restaurateur

Q&A: From Wine Director to Restaurateur

Boris in his establishment, Uva Enoteca.

Boris Nemchenok | Chef's Blade

Boris Nemchenok is the co-owner, wine director, and general manager of Uva Enoteca in San Francisco. He previously worked at Mario Batali’s Otto Enoteca Pizzeria in New York and EOS Restaurant & Wine Bar.

Chef’s Blade: How did you break into the restaurant business? Can you tell us a little about your personal highs and lows of your career?

Boris Nemchenok: I started working a few hours a week when I was 14 years old at Guittard Chocolate where my mother works. She has always worked in the food business so it was always around me. My first real restaurant job was at a place called Mimi’s Café. I never served before but I got the job. It wasn’t great but paid the bills. After that I landed a back waiter job at EOS in San Francisco. This is where I really started getting interested in food and wine. It really impressed me to see how passionate the whole staff was.

CB: Is this the first restaurant you’ve opened yourself? What was that like? What’s it like to partner with a chef as a co-owner? How are responsibilities divided?

BN: This is the first restaurant I have opened on my own, though I’ve worked on other restaurant openings before. Opening Uva was definitely challenging! I was 24, working in New York City at OTTO when I decided to do this project. At first it was just an idea I had. I didn’t have the money to do the project so I started hosting wine dinners and tastings around town to see if anybody would be interested—and they were. In all, Uva has taken almost four years to develop. Dealing with the city [bureaucracy] was the most challenging part.

Working with a chef as a co-owner is great! We are both very passionate and have the same vision for the restaurant. There are definitely times we disagree on things, but at the end of the day we both want the same thing for Uva. Ben runs the kitchen and I run the front of the house—that keeps things more simple.