Meet The Faculty

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Allan Aikman, Culinary Arts Instructor

Working as a deckhand and galley cook on a commercial fish boat off the west coast of British Columbia, Allan developed an appreciation for fresh wild seafood and rugged culinary techniques. He apprenticed at Umberto Il Giardino and has been Chef de Partie and Sous Chef at Terminal City Club, Wedgewood Hotel and Delta Pacific. Originally from Vancouver, Allan came to Victoria, BC, in 1993 to assist in opening the Ocean Pointe Resort. Chef Aikman is passionate about sharing the knowledge that he has gained through his extensive culinary experience as well as what he has learned from working with other chefs in the industry.


Jenny Aronson, Culinary Arts Instructor           

Originally from Thetis Island, BC, Chef Aronson got into cooking because her whole family loves to cook and eat! She graduated from VIU’s Culinary Arts Program in 2000, apprenticed under Chef Edward Tuson at the Sooke Harbour House, and in 2007, achieved her Red Seal Certification. She has worked in Verduno, Italy. She enjoys teaching and meeting the different personalities of the students, and she loves seeing the look of accomplishment on student’s faces when they achieve success.

Phone: 250-740-6116

Josephine Chong, Program Assistant Culinary Arts

Originally from Malaysia, Josephine has been supporting the Culinary Program as program assistant since 1985. She has a passion for cooking, as well as for working with young cooking students and assisting them to be successful in their studies and in their future careers. She loves the opportunity for creativity that setting up workshops and culinary competitions offers. The students affectionately call her “Chef Mom”, a title she is honoured to have earned by supporting the students with gratitude and compassion, and for always helping to find solutions to individual challenges.

Phone: 250-740-6289, Local 6289


Gordon Cowen, Culinary Arts Instructor

Chef Cowen completed his apprenticeship at the Westin Hotel in Calgary and has been Executive Chef at the Wedgewood Hotel in Vancouver, at Painter Lodge in Campbell River, and at the Sooke Harbour House in Sooke. He spent three years working in 5-star hotels in Switzerland and France, where he worked with Chef Albert Roux, and two years with Chef Anton Mossiman at the Dorchester Hotel in London, England. He loves to compete in regional, national and international culinary competitions and has won medals at all levels.

Phone: 250-740-6117, Local 6117


Sharon Davidson, Culinary Arts Cooperative Education Coordinator

Sharon has been with the Campus Career Centre at VIU since 2008. She has been involved in developing relationships with both employers and students to facilitate meaningful and challenging learning opportunities through co-op and internship programs. Previously, she worked as a Career and Employment counsellor and coordinated youth employment projects. Sharon has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Simon Fraser University.

Phone: 250-740-6478, Local 6478


Joerg Gabler, Culinary Arts Instructor

Chef Gabler began his culinary career in Germany, starting his pre-apprenticeship training in Realschule Soest. Upon moving to Canada, he followed his goals and finished his apprenticeship in British Columbia, completing the Canadian Journeyman’s Red Seal in 1990. He has worked in Victoria at the prestigious Empress Hotel, and the Delta Ocean Pointe Resort. He was involved in the re-opening of the Latch Country Inn in Sidney BC, the opening of the Water club Restaurant in Victoria, and worked at the Blue Peter Waterfront Pub and Restaurant. He also worked in Germany at the Restaurant La Marie in Wassenberg, and as a chef at the Sport Hotel Muelhausen.

Phone: 250-740-6126, Local 6126

Rita Gower, Professional Baking and Pastry Arts Program Chair

Rita apprenticed under Culinary Olympics luminary Fred Zimmerman at the Westin Calgary, completed the Red Seal Culinary Apprenticeship Program at SAIT, is a PVI Culinary Program graduate and a Red Seal Baker, and she has her BC Instructor’s Diploma from VCC. She has been a baking and culinary instructor at VIU since 2004. Rita has worked as a Pastry Commis in London, England, and at the Meridien Hotel in Vancouver, and as a Pastry Chef at the Sooke Harbour House in Sooke, BC, and April Point Lodge on Quadra Island, BC. She has also been the owner/operator of her own successful baking businesses. Rita finds teaching a very rewarding career and particularly enjoys contributing to and witnessing her students’ successes.

Phone:  250-753-3245, Ext. 6114


Ken Harper, Professional Baking and Pastry Arts Instructor

Chef Harper has been Executive Pastry Chef at the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, and has worked at the Pan Pacific in Vancouver, the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Resort and Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. He has been a gold and silver medalist in international culinary competitions as an individual, including winning Best Overall Individual Pastry Entry at the Luxembourg Culinary World Cup. He has won awards as a member of Culinary Team Alberta, winning gold at the Culinary Olympics in Germany, and as part of Team Canada, becoming World Champions at the Culinary Grand Prix in Glasgow. He has a passion for ice carving, and goes to several different competitions each winter. He also contributes in many local food events, bringing students to participate in events like the Feast of Fields, Bite of Nanaimo, and the Chefs Survival Challenge.

Phone: 250-740-6442, Local 6442


Jason Lloyd, Culinary Arts Program Chair

Chef Lloyd completed the Professional Cook Training program at Malaspina (now the Culinary Institute of Vancouver Island) in 1993, and received his Red Seal Certification in 1996. He completed his apprenticeship at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver under Chef Ernst Dorfler before moving on to help open the Creek Restaurant on Granville Island as Sous Chef under Corporate Chef and Bocus d'Or competitor Robert Allen Sulatyky. He was the opening Sous Chef at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport, and spent more than nine years catering to Vancouver's most affluent business people, politicians, celebrities and world leaders at Vancouver's premier private business club, The Terminal City Club, as Executive Sous Chef along side then Chef and Future CEO David Long, and was eventually promoted to Executive Chef. He had the opportunity to cook for the Canadian Government and their extensive list of world leaders, royalty and celebrities for two months during the 2010 Olympic Games and Paralympics. Chef Lloyd feels Nanaimo and Cowichan are fast becoming equal to other west coast communities because of their exceptional cuisine and emphasis on locally produced products.

Phone: 250-740-6137


David Nolan, Professional Baking and Pastry Arts Instructor

Pastry Chef David Nolan is a Red Seal Baker and Red Seal Cook with over twenty years’ experience, and has made several appearances as a guest chef on television shows. He began his culinary career at the age of 14 washing dishes in a small family run restaurant in Brantford, Ontario. After graduating from the Niagara Culinary Institute, he joined Fairmont Hotels and worked in the Canadian Rockies as well as Victoria, BC, at the Empress Hotel. While working at the Empress, Chef Nolan taught pastry instruction under Chef Harper at VIU. Chef Nolan then joined Ritz-Carlton Hotels and worked as the Executive Pastry Chef in Montego Bay Jamaica; Mclean, Virginia (Washington DC); and beautiful Lake Oconee in the State of Georgia. He returned to Canada in October of 2011 to work as Pastry Chef Instructor at VIU, where he enjoys helping students succeed in the field he is so passionate about.

Phone: 250-740-6140, Local 6140