Food & Drink » Glenda Bartosh on Food

Food and drink: What’s in Chili Thom’s fridge?

From liquid Freezies to beer with labels featuring his art



Living in a 380-sq-ft bachelor pad like Chili Thom's is something like living in an Airstream trailer without wheels. Located in, and I quote, the narrowest kitchen in the universe, his fridge is only six feet from his bed.

Along with a sink and three-burner stove it forms a singular, sleek 3-in-1 stainless steel and white enamel unit called SpaceAid that would be at home in a Tokyo tube hotel.

For Chili, who's been voted Whistler's favourite artist every year since 2002, home for the past three years has been at Adventures West, overlooking Alta Lake and the marshland, where you can see every type of bird imaginable.

It's pretty ironic that's where he lives. Chili grew up in Chilliwack - ergo his nom de guerre, Chili, for his hometown, despite the spelling like a red-hot chili pepper. (He got the alias from Sushi Village, where he used to work with three co-workers who had the same first name.) His parents brought him to Whistler in February to ski Blackcomb for his fifth birthday.

"My godparents had a place at Adventures West, and it's really funny. I remember walking out on my fifth birthday - I couldn't remember where - and I started walking on the ice and snow near a river, and I broke through and got super wet," he says.

"It was super shallow so it wasn't a big deal, but the whole time when I was living here I was trying to figure out where that was, and a few years ago I moved in here and walked down to the little dock at the riverside and was like, oh my god, this is full circle for me - this is where I fell in and started my whole Whistler experience."

That chilly baptism by ice water didn't put him off. Chili kept coming back every year for the mountain biking, the rock climbing, the skiing.

Now he's lived in Whistler 15 years, seven of them with fridges without a functioning freezer. That includes this one, where you can put something in the freezer for days and it will just get the lightest dusting of frost but never become frozen. Ergo the cold, weirdly juicy bananas he finds in the so-called "freezer" from maybe two years ago.

"I think the next place I get, I want one of those big double-door fridges that you can sleep in if you have to," he says.

Double-doors or no, Chili's fridge holds an amazing amount of food for its size.

On the top shelf we find a jar of Vlasic zesty dill pickles, a packet of three-year-old Freezies in assorted fruit flavours that have never been frozen due to the freezerless freezer, but were intended for friends coming over for a barbecue.