Mise en place
Preparing the ingredients for a secure retirement
Chef Gilbert Noussitou is an instructor of culinary arts at Victoria’s Camosun College. A graduate of L’École Hôtelière des Pyrénées in Toulouse, France, Gilbert has practiced his trade for more than 40 years across France, England and Canada. After moving to Victoria in the 70s, Noussitou worked in local restaurants and hotels before joining Camosun College Interurban in 1988.
What is your role at Camosun?
I teach culinary arts through Camosun’s professional cook program. As part of this program, students produce all the food for the cafeteria during the day, and we run a little restaurant – called the ClassRoom Restaurant – which is open to the public at night. We also prepare dinners and buffets for special occasions.
What makes your work special to you?
I enjoy passing along the knowledge that I have acquired. I was quite lucky to have very good training when I was younger, so I appreciate having the opportunity to pass that training to a younger generation. I learn a lot from the students as well – I think cooking is one of those trades where you never stop learning.
Having trained in France, how do you find working as a chef in BC?
We live in an area where we have a lot of influence from Asian countries and European countries as well. These cultures have brought in their own way of doing things, so we are really spoiled in terms of the amount of ideas and the types of ingredients we can find here. It’s really a wonderful area to be a chef, that’s for sure.
Looking ahead to retirement, is there anything you’re most excited about?
I love what I do, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I keep doing it, whether it’s teaching or cooking somewhere, so I’m not really excited to go into retirement other than the fact that I won’t have to show up at a certain time at work and so on. My pension payments will come in on a regular basis, so that’s a nice part of retirement.
What does your pension mean to your loved ones?
My wife is younger than me, so she plans to keep working after my retirement. I think she will appreciate me having a little more free time than I have now, and more time to do the things we want to do together. And we have a son – he’s busy as well – so hopefully that will give us an opportunity to spend more time together.
How do you envision spending your retirement?
I’m looking forward to some nice days – the freedom I think is what attracts me the most. I don’t have definite plans yet, but we could move back to France, or do half and half – half Europe, half here. Also, I don’t want to call it work, but hopefully I’ll get involved in some projects here and there, maybe in foreign countries as well. Not just going there to lie on the beach and do nothing; that’s not my type of thing. I like hiking, fishing and of course traveling.
Do you have any advice for those who are just starting out in their careers?
Start saving for retirement when you’re young. The money, whether we like it or not, is something we will need for traveling or just to have a nice, decent life, so saving early in small amounts is the main advice I’d give to anyone.
Gilbert Noussitou, chef, instructor and College Pension Plan member