Ingredients for success

Professional chef Peter Keith,‘19 BCom, ‘20 MBA, brings experience in entrepreneurship, community building and the food industry to his new role as director of eHUB Ideas Lab

You might say food was Peter Keith’s first love. After discovering the culinary world as a teen working as a restaurant dishwasher, Keith attended culinary school in Edmonton to become a chef. He headed to Vancouver to launch his career, working at high-end restaurants and competing in international culinary competitions.

But sometimes love isn’t enough, as the old adage goes. Keith realized that success in the food industry would require business acumen, as well as passion, so he returned to Edmonton to earn a BCom at the U of A.

“I found my way to the Entrepreneurship and Innovation major and, through that, a number of clubs and things, including eHUB Entrepreneurship Centre ,” he says. It was great timing as Keith had begun developing his first food business — an artisanal food market and online store called Meuwly’s .

At eHUB, Keith found enthusiastic support from staff, as well as grant funding and mentoring. 

“It was profound to be going through this experience while studying entrepreneurship and management theory in an academic setting,” he says. 

Keith loved studying during the daytime and putting concepts into practice during the evenings as he worked on Meuwly’s with his business partners.

peter-keith-4x5After earning his undergraduate degree in 2019, Keith pursued graduate studies through the Alberta School of Business’ Fast Track MBA program, which he completed in 2020. Next, he took on a role as Director of Product Operations at The Public Food Hub, a company that connects local food makers and foodies. “What drew me to the company was the idea of being able to reduce barriers for entrepreneurs,” he says.

During his tenure, Keith led a food entrepreneurship program for Canadian newcomers with food-related skills and experience, but limited knowledge of starting and running a business in Canada. Funded in part by the nonprofit United Way, the six-week program focused on the fundamentals of starting a food-related business. “We ran three cohorts of the program and I got to work with dozens of amazing entrepreneurs,” he says.

It was a formative experience, says Keith: 

"I realized that entrepreneurship was something I wanted to be involved with even if I wasn’t always starting something new myself. I wanted to work with and support entrepreneurs."

This March, Keith became the new director of eHUB Ideas Lab, which supports student entrepreneurs from across disciplines. It’s a natural fit given Keith’s passion for entrepreneurship, but also his love of mentorship, coaching and teaching. He’s done all three since his early 20s when he began preparing students for the IKA Culinary Olympics and other international cooking competitions. “It really ignites me to help other people on their path,” he says. “I absolutely love it when I see them go on to do far greater things than I’ve ever done.” 

Keith is looking forward to teaching modules of the newly launched Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship this fall, offering entrepreneurship education to undergraduates in any discipline. This is consistent with the mandate of eHUB, which serves the broader campus community and not business students exclusively.

Students of any academic background are welcome to test ideas at the eHUB Ideas Lab, which offers both support and a “soft landing” when ideas fail. 

“Any seasoned entrepreneur will tell you that failure is a critical part of the process. Failure is what drives success,” says Keith. 

Entrepreneurs come from many walks of life, but he thinks students are often well-situated to take entrepreneurial risks as they don’t yet need a stable income the way a person with a spouse and children might.

“We need to give them permission to say, ‘Now’s the time to experiment and be curious and start that business and run with it for a while,’ ” he says. Whether or not students choose to pursue entrepreneurship after graduation, eHUB Ideas Lab teaches them to think like an entrepreneur — something that’s valuable in many job roles and industries.

"We need brilliant young people who are willing to look at a problem in a new way, apply creative thinking, take manageable and appropriate risks, and build consensus and excitement around ideas they want to implement," he says.

If you are a student or post-doc interested in developing a new idea, business or social venture, please get in touch with Pete and the eHUB Ideas Lab at

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