Conestoga news

July 3, 2023 8:32 AM

Conestoga’s Bloom restaurant welcomes new executive chef

The School of Hospitality & Culinary Arts has appointed Dan McCowan, owner and chef of uptown Waterloo’s Red House, to the role of executive chef at Bloom.

Conestoga College Dan McCowan.jpeg
The School of Hospitality & Culinary Arts has named Dan McCowan as the new executive chef at Bloom.

“My goal is to get people excited about cooking and to continue to grow the reputation of Bloom,” said McCowan. “Many people still don’t realize it’s open to the public. I want to add to some of the excitement that’s happening at the school as it continues to grow and to also help support more young chefs -- and have more chefs entering the industry in town -- so that we can continue to grow our local restaurant culture.”

McCowan graduated from the Chef Apprentice program at George Brown College and later returned to the region to serve as executive chef at Bauer Kitchen and Charcoal Steakhouse before turning to his own venture and opening Red House in April 2013.

“I’ve had Red House 10 years,” said McCowan. “I officially accepted the position at Bloom the day before my 10-year anniversary so it’s kind of serendipitous. My cousin teaches carpentry at Conestoga and he’s been talking about the college for years. He made a transition from running his own business to a tech position and then teaching and it’s always been in the back of my mind to do the same. When the position came up and I learned the specifics about running Bloom, it seemed like a perfect fit for my experience.”

Bloom is located within Conestoga’s School of Hospitality & Culinary Arts and serves as an interactive live classroom where students are given the opportunity to practice a high level of service to paying guests. The restaurant, and the state-of-the-art culinary labs students train in, were part of the $58 million Waterloo campus expansion that took place in 2018.

McCowan said Bloom has been in a similar position to other restaurants over the past three years as they dealt with the effects of the pandemic, but said with restrictions now past us and things levelling off it’s an ideal time to be joining the industry.

"I'm excited to see how I can help grow the program in the coming years," added McCowan. "I've really come to enjoy the collaboration and coaching side of things at this point in my career.”

This summer, lunch seatings at Bloom will be available on Fridays, and dinner seatings will be available Tuesday to Friday. To make reservations and learn more about Bloom, visit

Conestoga’s School of Hospitality & Culinary Arts provides a broad range of programs to serve the workforce needs of the growing hospitality industry. Conestoga is Ontario’s only college included in the Institut Paul Bocuse Worldwide Alliance, the leading global network of education excellence for culinary arts and the hospitality trades.