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Hot like Chili

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

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While doing a first aid re-certification he met up with Bruce Wilson, who had a company in North Vancouver hosting kayak training in the summer and avalanche safety in the winter. Through his relationship with Wilson’s adventure company, he gained his guiding certification, a piece of paper that has been his passport to further adventure.

While there’s been a few close calls out in the wilds for Thom, so far he hasn’t come up against anything that he couldn’t handle. “I’ve been excessively cold or had to drag an injured friend out of the woods… and I’ve had about 20 black bear encounters.”

So far, he’s managed to elude the one thing that appears to make him a little nervous — grizzlies.

“Sometimes you’ll hear a ‘crack’ in the bush every now and then, look around and think, ‘I know there’s something out here.’”

 

What’s out there?

Finding out what’s out there is an important theme of Thom’s latest venture, hosting the 13-part documentary series, Wild at Heart . The production, which takes non-outdoors types on recreation adventures in provincial parks throughout B.C., is the Knowledge Network’s most ambitious project. As such, the program has been sold to broadcasters across the country and strong international sales seem likely given Europe’s affinity for B.C.’s landscape.

Having worked previously with the series producer, David Gullason, on the Life Network’s series, Whistler Stories , Thom was determined to win the hosting job when the idea was first presented to him.

Thom, accompanied by Heavy Hitting Films partner Feet Banks, went down to the Knowledge Network’s studio for his on-camera test. After the test, they showed the producers their Whistler film festival funded movie, High on the Mountain . That cinched the deal.

“We showed it to them and they were like, well their jaws practically dropped and they said 'Yeah, this is what we’re looking for.’”

A few months later Thom was engaged in a five-month shooting schedule. From 5,000 applicants, Thom led 65 people — in groups of four or five — to realize their adventures. While many of the participants were justifiably nervous at first, their enthusiasm impressed Thom.