NAIT's dining room has been an integral part of the Department of Culinary Arts and Professional Food Studies since 1963. It provides Culinary Arts students with critical real-world skills while providing Edmontonians with a first-rate dining experience.
In 2005, the dining room was renovated as part of the new Hokanson Centre for the Culinary Arts. Renamed Ernest's, in honour of the father of principal benefactor John Hokanson, the decor has changed, but the quality remains the same.
Ernest Hokanson was born in 1920 in Edmonton to Swedish immigrants. He quit school in grade 7 at age 15 and got a job washing pots at the Hotel Macdonald, which soon launched his lifelong passion for food.
After years with the hotel chain, a military career brought Ernest overseas during World War II, where he met his war bride.
Upon returning to Canada, Ernest became a restaurant owner in Peace River, where he eventually got into oilfield catering. After a number of successful ventures he sold his last – HG Caterers – to his partner in 1980 and retired. He passed away in 2001.