Class of 2022

Zineb Hattab

Hospitality Pioneers

32 / Zurich, Switzerland

The plant-based advocate helping destigmatise veganism

It takes guts to quit a well-paid, stable job to take a chance on a dream, but that’s exactly what Spanish-Moroccan Zineb ‘Zizi’ Hattab did when she left her position as a software developer to knock on the door of one of the world’s best chefs. In 2014, with zero professional cooking experience and a truckload of passion, Zizi became a stagiaire at chef Josean Alija’s Nerua in Bilbao, Spain, then spent the next decade working her way up in 50 Best restaurants including Schloss Schauenstein, Osteria Francescana, El Celler de Can Roca and finally Cosme, where she was executive chef under Daniela Soto-Innes. At these world-class restaurants, she learned world-class skills, but the activist in her was itching to fight for change in an industry she saw as flawed. She wanted to create a restaurant that fought against the male-dominated environment, back-breaking hours and poor mental health, while starting something with a future-gazing approach to the environment. 

Enter Kle, the plant-based restaurant she opened in Zurich, Switzerland, at the start of the pandemic in 2020, and its accompanying plant-based bar, Dar. Not previously vegan, Zizi cut out animal products to learn how to live without the flavours she’d relied on for years. Creating a beet tartare that her customers say is more delicious than a beef one, and signatures such as Kle Fried Mushrooms, she has designed a truly plant-based restaurant that can compete with the best fine dining establishments in the world. Though becoming a restaurant owner has been the biggest challenge of her life, she has stuck to her principles and beliefs, serving dinner just five days a week to give her staff two days off and foster a healthier working environment. Meanwhile, she fights against the stigma often attached to veganism by normalising plant-based cuisine at Kle, which is named after a German word for a plant. As a woman from a family of Moroccan immigrants who grew up in Spain, Zizi also provides great inspiration to others through her determination to succeed in a male-dominated industry with no formal training.

“It’s more important than ever that owners and managers create working environments where staff thrive professionally and socially with a sustainable human approach. We can’t help impact people and the planet with our food and service if we’re not happy and healthy within our own daily lives.” – Zineb Hattab

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