Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

5 things you never knew about Ernest's, an OpenTable top-100 restaurant in Canada

Ernest’s has earned national recognition and high praise from food lovers.

NAIT’s on campus fine-dining restaurant has been named one of the 100 Best Restaurants for Foodies in Canada by OpenTable diners. OpenTable is an online reservation tool.

“We are ecstatic,” said Brent Murton, dining room supervisor at Ernest’s. “This ranks our culinary program in the same league with some of the greatest restaurants in Canada.”

OpenTable says its top-100 list reflects the combined opinions of more than 300,000 users who reviewed 1,800 restaurants in Canada.

Ernest’s was among 9 Edmonton-based restaurants and 22 in Alberta that made the list. In addition to that fact, here are 5 other things you might not know about Ernest’s.

  1. Ernest’s uses super-powered garlic. During the week, Les Fehr – a tech centre supervisor at NAIT’s Souch Campus – supervises trades technicians. But away from work, he tends to hundreds of garlic plants on a farm in New Serepta. In 2016, Fehr planted 2,000 cloves of 11 varieties. His garlic, according to Perry Michetti (Cooking ’90), is about 5 times stronger than what you would buy in the store. It’s the only garlic Ernest’s uses.
  2. Ernest’s is named after an Edmonton food industry pioneer. Born in 1920 in Edmonton to Swedish immigrants, Ernest Hokanson was a successful entrepreneur who ran his own oilfield catering company. At the age of 15, he landed a job washing pots and pans at the Hotel Macdonald, kickstarting his lifelong passion for the business. In 2003, Hokanson’s family helped raise $3.25 million to create the Hokanson Centre for Culinary Arts. It was built in 2005, along with the new dining room, which is now known as Ernest’s.
  3. Ernest’s teaches cooking. Not only is the restaurant known for offering an amazing dining experience, it’s also a great resource for amateur chefs. Radio and Television students team up with Culinary Arts students to produce a YouTube series called Cooking with Ernest’s. Each segment features a student chef who explains how to prepare a dish, and talks about its ingredients and origins.
  1. Ernest’s is great for wine. Ernest’s uses an Enomatic wine dispenser which controls temperature and prevents oxidization, protecting the taste and aroma of the wine.
  2. Chefs at Ernest’s use hyper-local ingredients. Many of the herbs and microgreens in Ernest’s delicious dishes are local. In fact, some are grown just a few paces from the dining room in the kitchen’s Urban Cultivator. The size of a large fridge, this high-tech mini-greenhouse can grow sprouts, basil and other tasty herbs year-round.