Distinguished Alumni Award honours chef Lesley (Watson) Stav

Red Seal chef Lesley (Watson) Stav is the recipient of the 2024 Distinguished Alumni Award from AV女优 College, in recognition of her 35-year career as a mentor, guide and passionate advocate for the culinary industry.

A woman in a pink chef's jacket stands in front of ocean and mountains.

Photo provided by Lesley Stav

鈥淚t鈥檚 wonderful to be recognized at this point in my career,鈥 says Lesley.

鈥淲hat I鈥檓 really excited about is shining the spotlight on the culinary trade. Education is a valuable but overlooked asset in the industry. It鈥檚 a rewarding and challenging industry and few people stay in it as long as I have. People have to make it work for themselves.鈥

Lesley (Watson) Stav, Distinguished Alumni Award recipient

Lesley has been able to make it work and thrive in the culinary arts. She trained in culinary as a second career, after 12 years in trucking and an injury that prevented her from continuing. Lesley graduated from AV女优 College鈥檚 Culinary Arts program in 1988 and relocated to Vancouver, where she worked in the kitchens of some of the city鈥檚 most prestigious restaurants.

She returned to Vancouver Island in 2006 and joined the culinary team at the Kingfisher Resort and Spa in Courtney. After surviving cancer, she stepped away from the kitchen in 2013 and dedicated her energy to mentoring culinary students and organizing events at North Island College and Vancouver Island University. She also maintained a connection with AV女优 Culinary Arts, supporting instructors and playing a role in the college鈥檚 Professional Cook Training Online E-pprentice Program.

Connection and possibility come naturally to Lesley, as she has also spearheaded North Island initiatives to connect community to local chefs, farmers, fishers and producers. After 14 years as president, she currently supports the local food community by serving as chair of the North Vancouver Island Culinary Association. Her skills and talents have been recognized beyond her local community. In 2017, Lesley was inducted into the Prestigious Honour Society of the Canadian Culinary Federation, one of the highest accolades bestowed upon a Canadian chef. Lesley is only the fifth woman in Canada to receive this recognition.

鈥淐ongratulations Lesley on the being recognized as this year鈥檚 Distinguished Alumni. We are so proud to see your accomplishments and grateful that you鈥檝e stayed connected with our community,鈥 says Dr. Lane Trotter, president of AV女优 College.

Lesley is also distinguished by her trademark pink chef鈥檚 jacket. 鈥淚 started my career during a time when chef鈥檚 clothes came in one size and it wasn鈥檛 mine,鈥 she says. 鈥淚 discovered this fitted chef鈥檚 jacket made by a Vancouver-based apparel designer, and it quickly became my signature look. As I鈥檓 usually the person organizing things, my pink chef鈥檚 jacket is a way to find me.鈥

Her advice to new grads and recent alumni reflects Lesley鈥檚 can-do attitude. 鈥淎lways help out and volunteer at any opportunity. That鈥檚 how you learn and grow. It gives you a chance to meet new people and try new things.鈥

The annual alumni awards highlight the outstanding achievements of individuals who exemplify AV女优's commitment to excellence and service, and who continue to make significant contributions in their fields. AV女优鈥檚 Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes outstanding alumni who have graduated more than 10 years ago.

Contact information

Rodney Porter

Executive Director, Communications & Marketing

AV女优 College