For the love of food and learning
CULINARY ARTS SCHOLARSHIP NAMED IN HONOUR OF FORMER DEAN
After Ellen Hughes’ 36 successful years at NAIT, her partner wanted to ensure Ellen’s retirement was marked with an appropriate commemoration of her legacy in culinary arts. Fittingly, after enjoying a meal at Ernest’s—NAIT’s fine dining room—Elaine Betchinski decided what needed to be done.
Inspired to continue Ellen’s work by supporting the next generation of chefs and restauranteurs, Elaine established the Ellen P. Hughes Endowed Fund, which was announced at Ellen’s retirement party in 2016. The scholarships borne out of that endowment will support students in NAIT’s Culinary Arts program in perpetuity.
Ellen couldn’t ask for a better gift. “I really, passionately believe in what NAIT does. NAIT provides a life-altering experience for students,” she says.
The impact Ellen has had on NAIT can be felt across campus. After starting her career at the polytechnic as a medical lab instructor, she later took on positions as dean of the school of health and life sciences, and the school of the culinary arts and hospitality. She has made annual donations to support NAIT’s programs and the Centre for Applied Technology—a building Ellen helped plan and develop.
Both Ellen and Elaine believe it is important to give back to support students. “We didn’t incur tremendous debt,” says Elaine, pointing out that tuition was lower when she and Ellen went to school. “We both had scholarships and awards along the way. Without that support, we wouldn’t have the lives we enjoy today.”
Originally from Montreal, Elaine met Ellen 36 years ago. She had moved to Edmonton to pursue her graduate degree at the University of Alberta, and later met Ellen while they both played basketball for the Edmonton Basketball Association.
Today they share a west Edmonton home adorned with a proud and diverse collection of paintings and prints—from colourful mountain ranges and jagged tree-lined landscapes to abstract art artwork and relics brought back from their world travels.
Their diverse palate extends to their taste in food. “We like to try different things. We’ve been exposed to the many different meals and cuisines that Ernest’s has featured,” says Ellen. She has attended all 8 Hokanson Chef in Residence luncheon events, and continues to be a regular patron at Ernest’s for lunch and dinner.
Ellen says she finds comfort through her endowment, which contributes to the continued success of NAIT students. “It’s a nice legacy. Long after I’m gone, my scholarship will still be here, helping students.”