Nur, the Food Lover

Meet Nur, Managing Director at T by Tamara, a unique cafe on Seymour Place offering a range of delicious food, cakes and pastries inspired by the owner’s Levantine heritage.

1Can you explain your role in one sentence?I manage T by Tamara with the founder herself. This includes a wide range of flexible aspects like marketing and communications, as well as operations and admin.

2How long have you been doing this job? I started the role part-time in September, close to the opening date and officially joined the team full-time in October!

3Did you find yourself in this role by accident or by design? Definitely by accident. I messaged Tamara on Instagram to ask her to meet for coffee and talk about her work and journey in the culinary world. She ended up asking me to work with her and here I am!

4What is the best part about your job?Knowing I’m in a space that gives me the liberty to co-create. I enjoy the fluidity of the role, as overwhelming as it can be (one can only do so much at once!). I also love knowing my ideas will be taken into consideration. There aren’t many roles or companies like this in a city like London, where you're genuinely allowed room to be creative.

5What advice would you give to young women aspiring to work in the food / hospitality industry? It’s my first experience in this industry, I just finished my MSc with LSE and was previously working in financial research and communications.
It’s beautiful working with women who are passionate about food. There’s less of a gender hierarchy and it’s a safe space to express your emotions without having them be undermined. We take pride in being expressive and vocal and we put a lot of love in everything we do. Maybe my advice would be to be part of a business that amplifies women’s voices and holds space for personal growth. And if I had one piece of advice for my former self it would be to go into new experiences with minimal expectations. We expect so much from ourselves and can be quite critical when we fall short of our unrealistic expectations.

6What’s the strangest thing that has ever happened to you in your role? Tamara and I get a lot of male customers who come in with interesting comments - Are you married? Are you single? Some men ask very personal questions a woman wouldn’t ask if the roles were reversed, especially in a professional situation which was quite surprising for both of us. It definitely taught us to establish firmer boundaries in customer relations while also keeping in mind hospitality expectations, which can be challenging to do as a new business.

7What is the best lesson you learnt as a woman in hospitality? As mentioned earlier, this is my first time working in this industry, so I am already learning a lot. One thing that has been a reoccurring theme is being challenged by cultural and societal norms. I am part Palestinian and many people from Arab cultures have a condescending attitude towards those who work in the service, culinary, and hospitality industry – and they would not hold back from questioning my role and career shift. In comparison with previous experiences in finance, people would respond to it differently, almost with more respect and admiration. It can feel discouraging at times but it is definitely teaching me where to place my attention when it comes to public image and respect. At the end of the day, I am pursuing my passion and take pride in what I do and what Tamara and I are creating.

8What do you enjoy doing when you are not at work? I love to cook for my friends! When I was living in Vancouver, my friends and I would host large dinners and everyone would share their favourite dishes while also making music. I also enjoy sitting in London parks, writing and thinking of new recipes, it’s quite meditative. And if I’m not in London, you’ll usually find me on West Wittering beach in Chichester. I can spend hours on the beach.

9What do you like about this area? I like all the boutiques, independent businesses and family-owned restaurants. It brings me joy walking around the area discovering new shops and eateries, it’s like window-shopping for ideas.

10Who is YOUR hero and what is it about them that inspires you? My mother and father. My mother is my biggest supporter, she believes in the pursuit of one’s dreams. My dad is also very supportive. He’s a Palestinian refugee who had to start building his career from scratch. He’s a doctor and still goes to his clinic at 75. He’s passionate about his work and genuinely enjoys it.

My culture plays a huge role into what I’m doing now. I want to amplify Palestinian cuisine and see more Palestinian chefs internationally recognised. I never had the chance to live on my land but I would love to create a piece of Palestine through food, I take so much pride in being Palestinian.

11If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be? I’m very drawn to Ecuador, many of my close friends are from the region and I always felt that our cultures intersected. There's an emphasis on collective gatherings, the coming together around food and music, and that brings me so much joy!