An Island chef born in Lebanon has been named the 2017 diversity champion.
Pierre El Hajjar of Charlottetown received news of the honour during the recent opening ceremonies for the National Francophone Immigration Week.
El Hajjar is the head chef at the Carrefour de l’Isle-Saint-Jean. The award was to be presented during a multicultural reception on Nov. 3.
The Diversity Champion Award congratulates and thanks the commitment, effort and actions of a deserving person for his or her community involvement and for helping to integrate newcomers into the community.
El Hajjar and his family arrived in P.E.I. six years ago. His wife, Rita, works at the early childhood centre, L’Ille Enchantee, and his children, an eight-year-old boy and twin seven-year-old girls, go to l’Ecole Francois-Buote. They all have the status of permanent resident and are hoping to soon receive their Canadian citizenship.
El Hajjar worked for a while as a chef at Byblos Authentic Lebanese Restaurant and then as head chef at the Prince Edward Home Senior Care Facility. For the past four and a half years, he has been the head chef at the Carrefour, where he operates both the school cafeteria and a community catering service.
He is renowned in the community as a chef who is extremely devoted to healthy nutrition for children and who always prepares succulent meals.
Thanks to his nutritional education initiatives, the Healthy Eating Alliance awarded the Carrefour de l’Isle-Saint-Jean the 2015 Pear Award for outstanding nutritional education and healthy eating initiatives.
When he’s not working, El Hajjar volunteers his time to help with community causes, especially those related to the well-being of children.
He cooks voluntarily for fundraising events for children that are organized by the Club Richelieu Port-la-Joye of Charlottetown as well as for various community celebrations, such as the Christmas brunch and the Saint-John-the-Baptist holiday.
The three first champions were Gregory Urier, who was at the time the assistant executive director of the Carrefour, Edgar Arsenault, manager of the community care centre Le Chez-Nous Co-op in Wellington and Isabelle Dasylva-Gill, an employee with the Acadian and francophone affairs secretariat of Charlottetown.