Connie DeSousa and John Jackson named NAIT’s 2023 chefs in residence

Published on February 16, 2023

After a two-year hiatus, the Hokanson Chef in Residence program returns to NAIT featuring two renowned Albertan chefs, Connie DeSousa and John Jackson. 

Calgary-based co-chefs and co-owners, DeSousa and Jackson have impressive resumes that have seen them explore their culinary talents in restaurants across the globe.  

  • DeSousa is one of Canada’s most celebrated female chefs. Known for her butchery skills and simple approach to food, the Alberta-born and raised chef has made appearances on Top Chef Canada, Top Chef All Stars and as a judge for the Food Network’s Fire Masters. DeSousa brings her fierce yet empathetic approach to her work, especially when mentoring young chefs and women in the culinary industry. 
  • Jackson’s 29-year career has established him as a culinary leader and a mentor to many young chefs and entrepreneurs, including DeSousa. Jackson found his passion for cooking as a young man growing up in Saskatchewan. This passion has taken him around the world including Italy, New York, San Francisco and Bora Bora before landing him in Calgary in 2009. Jackson specializes in the evolved yet simple farm-to-table approach. 
  • Together they own several restaurants and businesses in Calgary – CHARCUT Roast House, charbar, Rooftop Bar @ Simmons, Alley Burger, CHIX Eggshop, CHAR Catering & Events, and Connie & John’s Pizza.  

This year marks the first time the polytechnic has welcomed two chefs for the annual Chef in Residence program, which provides students with a rare opportunity to learn firsthand from the best chefs in North America. The program was made possible by a generous donation from John and Susan Hokanson. DeSousa and Jackson are also the first Albertan chefs to participate in the week-long residency program.  

NAIT culinary students will spend Mar. 13 to 17 with DeSousa and Jackson learning innovative cooking techniques and diverse culinary trends and styles. 

NAIT’s award-winning restaurant, Ernest’s, will be hosting a three-course lunch and a four-course dinner prepared by DeSousa, Jackson and NAIT Culinary Arts students on Thursday, March 16, and a 4-course dinner on Friday, March 17. Friday’s DeSousa and Jackson-inspired dinner will be solely prepared by students. 

Thursday’s lunch is $28 per person including tax and gratuity. Dinner on both days is $45 per person plus tax and gratuity or $65 per person with a flight of wine (plus tax and gratuity). 
Reservations can be made by either calling Ernest’s Dining Room at 780-471-8676 or emailing  
To learn more, visit  



“Born and raised in Alberta, we are so proud to be a part of the culinary community and share our journey with the NAIT students as this year’s Chefs in Residence.  John and I are excited to teach some butchery skills and our simple approach to food and cuisine. It will be a fun exchange, learning from each other and getting to cook some tasty food!” - Connie DeSousa, 2023 Hokanson Chef in Residence 

“NAIT culinary students will see we have a fun dynamic, as we are Co-Chef’s and business partners for life. We will be telling stories about travelling and working in some of the world’s most well-known restaurants, including our own.  We will also touch on our success in finding balance in a not so balanced industry, from the heat of the kitchen to fitness and family.” - John Jackson, 2023 Hokanson Chef in Residence  

“We are so pleased to have Connie and John join us as our chefs in residence this year. They will bring an incredible Alberta story of the culinary journey they have been on for many years.” - Perry Michetti, operations manager, Culinary Arts and Professional Food Studies 

About NAIT

The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) is a leading Canadian polytechnic, delivering education in science, technology and the environment; business; health and skilled trades. With more than 38,000 credit and non-credit students and a 98 per cent employer satisfaction rate, NAIT grads help fuel the economic engine of the province. NAIT also contributes to Alberta's prosperity by helping businesses and communities become more competitive through industry-driven applied research and corporate training. Recognized as one of Alberta's top employers, NAIT provides outstanding returns on investment for its graduates, industry partners, the provincial government and the people of Alberta.

Media inquiries

Nicole Graham
NAIT Media Relations
C 780.916.8307 E

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