The Legacy of Chef Margaret Turner
“I can only imagine where all of your graduates are today, all around the world…”
-Dr. David Ross
President of Southern Alberta Institute of Technology
Chef Margaret Turner has spent the last thirty-five and a half years as a culinary instructor at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary, Canada. On Friday, February 2, 2018, faculty at the culinary school, former colleagues and teammates, industry professionals and friends celebrated Chef Turner’s retirement from SAIT. She felt quite at home in The Highwood Dining Room, a place where she hosted dozens of fundraising dinners and events, all in the best interest of her students or team members.
The conversations surrounding her retirement were quite lively and full of praise. One colleague and former teammate expressed that Chef Turner’s work life spanned over 35 years, however if calculated in terms of reach, it would measure multiple lifetimes. That is the essence of Margaret. She was so committed and devoted to students and young chefs. Her care and determination towards student success was beyond exceptional and she never hesitated to go well out of her way to help others and teach them something. Chef Turner was herself, a SAIT alumna and was proud to represent the school each time that she trained a team of students for a cooking competition. She was and still is a firm believer of tough love. The training that she commanded was in a style of her own that only her “kids” (her students or alumni that she managed for international competition) could truly understand. Her long-time colleague and coach of the cooking teams, Chef Gerd Steinmeyer, greeted her with “Pinch me! I cannot believe that this day has come.” In other words, many believe that the altruism of Margaret is never-ending.
The legacy of Chef Turner reaches far away from SAIT, too. (Mostly thanks to Chef Turner, SAIT is among the most medal-winning institutes of Canada starting in 1982.) Her thousands of students have graduated and many have moved away to seemingly every corner of the world. Moreover, Chef Turner’s career as a chef was not limited to SAIT. Her tireless volunteering with various organizations, foundations, committees etc. kept her in touch with so many people. Her legacy also includes working as a food stylist for films and television series that were filmed in Southern Alberta.
Of course, recognition must go to her close family members who are just as beg-hearted and she is. Chef Turner’s family members can easily recount detailed stories of individual chefs, they can recall details of food that was served when and where, and they can cite more facts about the cooking teams or tour destinations. It goes full circle.
As for Margaret’s next phase in life, many of us are sure that she has some plans up her sleeve for the cooking world. We just hope that it involves a well-deserved break. Chef and Chairman of Worldchefs, Andy Cuthbert, while wishing Margaret a happy retirement, added, “I hope your retirement doesn’t mean the end of competitions, but means a little more for you to help others continue to be successful.” I can say that without a doubt, Chef Turner will continue to support others in their journeys but in the meantime, I wish her all the luck in the world as she embarks on a new life.