MYKITA Hatim Clip Official
Hatim wears RIKU in Indigo/Yale Blue with Polarized Pro Amber Brown lenses from the NO1 collection.

Hatim on the process of making major life decisions, knowing when to move on, and all the different ways to be a Berliner. Food & beverage director at Slowness, Hatim Zubair was born in Sudan and grew up in Toronto. He’s a fine dining veteran, gaining experience at places like Fäviken in Sweden, The Clove Club in London and Raymonds in Canada. He recently settled in Berlin working with partner and head chef Tobias Beck on the Berlin food collective Ember. In our interview, Hatim traces his path from early years following the script set out for him to breaking away from that and following his intuition into high end gastronomy, which led him to his current home Berlin.

How did you imagine your life as an adult when you were a child?
Thankfully, a lot like how it looks now. I get to travel often, get to do what I enjoy doing, get to see much of the world and have a good time, and enjoy the work that I do from day to day.
And thinking back to how you were as a child – are there things that you carry with you into your adult life?
I think growing up I was quite shy and quite sensitive, caring and very aware of my surroundings. And fortunately, I've carried most of that with me. Maybe the shyness has depleted a little bit. I like to think of myself as somebody who cares about others and has a high level of empathy and acknowledgment for how people are feeling and how they move through this world.

Did you always have a path in life or a direction that you tried to follow? 
I think direction is subject to change within an individual at any given time and point in their lives. The direction I am going right now is something that I am enjoying. I know it's something that I want to continue to live out. Is it the course for the rest of my life, my forever direction? Probably not. Not because it's unfulfilling, but just because it is a bit boring to do the same thing over and over.

MYKITA Hatim Clip Official
Photographed by Ben Beagent at Grosser Garten in the Berlin countryside. 

What is this thing that gives you joy or positive headspace?
It is seeing the things that I have seen and have been fortunate enough to see and experience throughout my life. To be able to always be curious and kind of look on the back of the packet, see how it's made and look under the rock and see what it looks like under there. That sense of curiosity and being able to fulfill that sense of curiosity every day and to really take chances for new experiences.

How do you most like to express yourself?
I really enjoy speaking to people. I think I'm pretty good at it. It's what I have done for a living for most of my life. I used to feel quite awkward speaking to strangers. But when that is all you do for a very long time in the restaurant industry, you become very good at relating to anyone from a billionaire to a homeless person and all points in between and all interests, and whether somebody is raised in Africa or raised in Sweden.

What is the key to connecting with people?
I think what's helped me connect with people is the fact that I am curious, and I am also very inquisitive. Most people will say I am from here or I was born here, or I did this for work, or I ate here, or I went to this concert. And more often than not, I probably have a shared experience with that individual in some way, shape or form. So, I guess it's relatability. And at the end of the day, we are all just normal humans who are tied together in this world in some way.

Do you have a moment in your life that was a big turning point?
Probably when I switched careers from being a policy sustainability consultant and planner to working in high end gastronomy. It was just that revelation of seeing something and being so curious about it that you had to try it and then doing it and be like, I'm actually very good at this thing and maybe I should just keep doing it. And that was 13 years ago, and I've been fortunate that it's taken me around the world, and I've done interesting things and met interesting people, and it's how I chose to come to Berlin.


MYKITA Hatim Clip Official
Hatim wears SONU in Limpid/Shiny Silver from the LITE collection.

To make such a major decision, do you feel like you need to take deliberate action or is it more like an inevitable development? Where do you look to for guidance on how to make these big changes in life?
At the time it was a massive change because I kind of followed the norm. You know, I am an immigrant. My parents are immigrants. I went to school. I became university educated. I got a job at 22. I was well paid. I followed the script to a T, so I achieved all that was required of me. And then it was time to do something completely not normal. Completely non-conventional. And actually, right before Covid hit, I was about to enter my third career, which was going to be in the field of art. At the age of 38. When I feel like I'm done with something, then it's time to move on. Not done in terms of ‘I'm not enjoying this anymore’, but I have taken this thing to its logical end, whether it's goal oriented or emotion oriented. When the learning curve isn't as steep, and I'm not like a fish out of water anymore, then that comfort gets a bit itchy for me and it's time to make a change.

You live in Berlin now. What does the city mean to you? 

Berlin means home. Berlin is an interesting city for me because somebody once said to me, the thing I like about Berlin is there are so many different ways to be a Berliner, which I find very interesting. In New York, you're like, ‘There's only one way to be a New Yorker’. There's only one way to be a Londoner. In Berlin, if you want to enter a club on Thursday and leave on Monday, that's one way to be a Berliner. If you want to wake up early on a Saturday and go for a jog, that's another way to be a Berliner. If you want to have kids, that's one way to be a Berliner. If you never want to have kids and so on. The iterations of being a Berliner are infinite. And within those, it's not so siloed. You can even be the person who enters the club on Thursday and leaves on Sunday morning, but the following weekend you're at yoga and you're running early in the morning. It's not one or the other. It's so fluid what being a Berliner is and what Berlin is. And it's changing every day, also the city. And hopefully we continue to be accepting and we continue to be inclusive.

Thank you, Hatim, for sharing your story and passion with us.

This conversation is a part of our interview series that goes beyond the surface with the multihyphenate talents of our Eyes Wide Open campaign, celebrating self-expression and the many individual paths in life.