Shelley Adams of Fresh Tracks Cafe on the change in ski resort food

Meet the chef whose ski cafeteria has achieved near-cult status


The story of Shelley Adams is as legendary as the 12 metres of annual snowfall that smothers the Nelson, B.C., area she calls home. Back in 1997, Adams took the limp chicken nugget eatery at Whitewater Ski Resort and turned it into Fresh Tracks Cafe—a superb ski cafeteria run on heart. When diners at Fresh Tracks began requesting the recipes to her healthy yet delicious dishes, Adams answered the demand with her first Whitewater Cooks cookbook. Drooling with luscious photographs, the cookbook, and the two that followed it, quickly became bestsellers. Adams’ fourth and latest effort, Whitewater Cooks for Life, hits bookshelves late next year.

Before you got involved with Whitewater Ski Resort, what did you do?

I was head chef at Reel Appetites in Vancouver—a catering firm for the movie industry. The food had to be fancy but simple because we were in a trailer and had to feed 100 to 150 people a day, including fussy celebrities.

Are movie stars tough to please?

Sure, but we still had lots of laughs. Over the years, we worked with Mel Gibson, Sean Connery, Goldie Hawn and fed all the stars in the Superman movies. Typically, the week would start off with specific orders … I still remember the actress who wanted a smoothie made with two cups of spinach, half a red pepper, half a green pepper, kale, one teaspoon of flax seeds and one cup of V8 juice. Finally, after 10 days, she succumbed to all the other healthy food we were serving the crew and the special requests stopped.

What makes Fresh Tracks so different from other ski-resort cafeterias?

We’ve always been primarily a local’s hill, and Nelson’s locals have always valued good food. At other resorts, the hard cost of food is typically 30 to 35 per cent of the customer’s bill. Ours is [40 to 43 per cent], so we might make less of a profit, but our volume is more. On a busy Saturday, Whitewater might see 1,200 skiers, and 700 of them will spend money at Fresh Tracks.

Did you think your cookbooks would be as successful as they are?

I still remember the day 5,000 books rolled off the truck. I kept apologizing to my husband, saying we are never going to sell them all. Three weeks later, we were ordering more.

If you were a recipe from one of your books, what would you be?

I’d be the Rustic Tomato Tart. I love its simple cornmeal sour cream crust and I adore fresh juicy tomatoes, goat cheese and fresh basil.

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