March 23, 2007 Features & Images » Feature Story

Hot like Chili 

Whistler’s Renaissance man Chili Thom adds TV host to his credits

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The turntables and stacks of vinyl are the tools of one of Thom’s numerous sidelines. As DJ Mr. Fister, he has hosted club nights around the village for years. With his partner, Kelsey Nash, he hosts the quirky TuTu Tuesdays — a chance for Whistler’s young and fun to fulfill their ballerina fantasies by donning one of the dozens of tutus that hang above Nash’s sewing workspace. (The tutus are a collection of vintage pieces Nash has acquired over the years and her own creations.)

Creation Station is the best playhouse in Whistler. Full stop.

The environment fits. After all, Thom is the best example of playing to live the town has to offer. His secret: he loves his work, the breadth and diversity. While he has the easygoing nature of a Generation Y slacker, he’s an exceptionally hard working artist, employing mediums ranging from music to film to express himself. He can keep up with the pace and the demands of his evolving career mostly because he loves it. He loves it so much that it begs the question: what would have happened if the onetime air cadet had followed another path.

“After high school I had a scholarship for aerospace engineering,” explains Thom.

When he discovered that becoming a pilot was not an option, he decided that pursuing a BA in fine arts would be the way to go.   After all, the idea of riding shotgun as a navigator or “being the guy who decided where to drop the bombs” was not very appealing.

A scholarship to UBC helped determine his educational destination. Half a year in, Thom discovered that the university’s fine arts program was not what he expected it to be. Dropping out, he went traveling. Seven months later, after touring Australia, New Zealand and the Cook Islands, he returned home.

“I came up to Whistler to visit a friend who was living here. I came up for a weekend and I stayed… 11 years,” says Thom, a story shared by so many.

Part of the appeal for the committed outdoorsman was obviously Whistler’s dynamic natural environment. Becoming a guide was also an economic practicality; he could get into the backcountry and make a living at the same time. It was also a career opportunity that played to his existing skill set.

“I started an outdoors club in high school. I was in air cadets, I did survival training and taught it to everyone.   I did rock climbing. My parents were always into the outdoors. We did canoe trips. We had a cabin in the interior,” says Thom, adding: “I also had some experience teaching leadership in a summer camp in the Howe Sound.”

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