We're very excited today to launch our first new column of 2015 - Canada's Tastemakers. Over the last few years we have been in awe of the incredible number of people across this vast country who are making a difference in the food world - local producers, chefs, food writers, cookbook authors, program managers, nutritionists... the list is endless. And the one thing they all have in common is passion. Passion for food, for small business, for making a difference... And we thought it was time to introduce the whole country to some these remarkable individuals.
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Shelley Adams - Cookbook Author and Food Entreprenuer
Today we kick off Canada's Tastemakers with Shelley Adams, the author of the Whitewater Cooks Cookbook series.
Shelley's books have been much loved in BC since the original Whitewater Cooks Cookbook launched in 2005. Her fourth book, Whitewater Cooks With Passion, was released in October 2014 and is currently sitting at #1 on the BC BestSeller List. All four books have been national best sellers and get their name from the Whitewater Winter Resort and ski hill, located just outside of Nelson, BC, that Shelley and her husband owned. Shelley acted as the creative director of the Fresh Tracks Cafe, in the resort's ski lodge, and the cafe's recipes became the basis for the first cookbook!
We sat down with Shelley to learn more about the books, her writing process and her newest venture, a line of locally produced, artisanal sauces based on the recipes from her books.
FBC: Congratulations on Whitewater Cooks with Passion! We’re big fans of the entire series of Whitewater Cookbooks. This is your fourth book in the series since the original Whitewater Cooks, Pure, Simple and Real Creations from the Fresh Tracks Café came out in 2005. What keeps you inspired to keep the series going?
SA: I keep going because I love eating, cooking and sharing great recipes. I am so inspired by the constant stream of cute stories of how my books have made peoples lives easier in the kitchen and how much they love the do-able recipes!
FBC: We first came across your books while visiting friends in Nelson, BC – home of the Whitewater Resort and the Fresh Tracks Café - back in 2006 when our hostess mentioned your book about 10 times during our stay! For people in BC, your story is very well-known – you literally are a “local tastemaker”! But could you give our readers across Canada a quick recap of how the Whitewater series originated?
SA: Who was your hostess?! Thank her for me! The series began with customers at The Whitewater Ski Resort asking for the recipes from the Fresh Tracks Café. I thought I would write them all down, take photos, publish them and that would be the end of the story. WRONG! Once people started using the easy and delicious recipes, they wanted MORE!
FBC: So many of our members create recipes for their blogs and some, for their own cookbooks. Getting a recipe right is always a challenge but every recipe we’ve made from the Whitewater books has turned out perfectly. How much time do you spend on testing your recipes and do you have a standard testing process you go through?
SA: I make all the recipes over and over and over myself. Then I hire different types of cooks and non-cooks to test them and bring me the results and their feedback. When I feel like anyone could make the recipes and have total success, then I enter them in my files, edit them and sign them off as winners! I always say to myself, would people make this dish over and over? I don’t include anything I don’t love in my books.
FBC: You have self-published your last three cookbooks – something we think our readers would be very interested in. Why did you decided to go that route?
SA: Self publishing for me is the best because you have total control of your project. From the recipes, photos, font, art, blurbs, introduction, dedication…… also it is all on your own time schedule. I work hard when I am home and not travelling and I have no deadlines for myself. When my book is exactly where I want it to be, then I send it to the printer. It doesn’t matter if it is before or after Christmas, winter, spring, summer or fall. When it is finished and as perfect as I can get it, it’s done! I self published my first one as well, but gave it to a publisher a year after I had already been selling it. It was excellent for marketing, but I wish I had just carried on publishing it myself.
FBC: What is your favourite part of the whole cookbook process outside of the actual recipe development piece?
SA: The photo shoots!! I love the setting up and creating a beautiful set for each recipe’s photo.
Also when I am finished…. Definitely peoples comments! So many great and heart warming stories about their success and love of the recipes!
FBC: You recently returned from a month long trip to Asia. We know you are very inspired in your books by local ingredients. Were you inspired by all the local ingredients and flavours on your travels? Anything in particular really get you itching to get in the kitchen and work on it?
SA: Yes! The Pho!
FBC: You have a brand new venture in the works – a locally manufactured line of sauces based on recipes from the Whitewater Cooks books. Tell us a little bit about that.
SA: I have manufactured 4 sauces, all the most popular ones from the cookbooks. Especially Glory Bowl dressing. People are addicted to it! I am too!!!
FBC: Creating and manufacturing a product seems like a very different process from creating a cookbook. What’s been the biggest challenge so far in this new project? What’s been the biggest surprise?
Getting the bottled version to taste just like the homemade. That was a ton of recipe testing and trips to the plant. Also, designing the labels. I wanted them to look like the cookbooks, but also know they would be unique and look great on the shelves. I made a lot of trips into grocery stores with my bottles and different labels and placed them on shelves along side other dressings and sauces! Luckily Nelson is a very supportive place to live, and no one minded my lurking in the aisles! Also of course, bottled sauces have to have a long shelf life and I didn’t want mine to have any preservatives, so that was a huge learning experience.
FBC: When can we expect to see your sauces in stores? And will they be available across Canada or just local to BC at first?
SA: They are in several stores in Nelson now, and I am working on finding a distributor in Vancouver. Across Canada is not in the stars yet!
FBC: Any chance that the Whitewater series will keep going? Will we see a 5th book?
SA: Definitely! I still have a lot to share!
FBC: Thanks for your time Shelley!