Profile: Chuck Carter – Badger Pass Ski School Director

_MG_7098_resize

If you’ve taken a ski or snowboard lesson at Badger Pass, odds are you’ve met Badger Pass Ski School Director, Chuck Carter. Soft-spoken, efficient and friendly, Chuck has been a fixture at Badger Pass for 46 winters, introducing new skiers and snowboarders to the slopes. That experience has given him a unique perspective on the ski area.

Chuck first fell in love with Badger Pass when he was in high school in Mariposa – sneaking up for a day on the slopes even though his football coach at the time prohibited it. The warm sierra sun gave him away when he and his teammates would show up back at practice with a tell-tale goggle tan, a tanned face, minus the area covered by ski goggles, but that still didn’t stop him.

Chuck Carter is celebrating his 46th winter at Badger Pass. Pictured here organizing ski and snowboard lessons.

Chuck Carter is celebrating his 46th winter at Badger Pass. Pictured here organizing ski and snowboard lessons.

Soon he met the legendary Nic Fiore. “Everybody knew Nic. He had such a big personality.” Nic arrived at Badger Pass just for the 1947-48 season but as he says, “Yosemite made such an impact on me. I fell in love with the place.” He ended up working at Badger Pass for more than 50 years, teaching more than an estimated 100,000 people how to ski, becoming a leader in the Professional Ski Instructors Association, and writing a book titled “So You Want to Ski”.

Chuck carries on Nic’s focus on teaching, and seems to be shooting for the same longevity. He started working as a part-time ski instructor for Nic Fiore in the winter of 1969-70, when he was in college, making the drive to Badger Pass every weekend and as many weekdays as possible.

Enjoying sunshine and a snack on the deck at Badger Pass.

Enjoying sunshine and a snack on the deck at Badger Pass.

What keeps him coming back year after year? First, it’s the people. Chuck enthusiastically mentions not only the instructors and Badger Pass staff from all the different departments, but also guests. “People come up every year for decades. It’s like seeing a bunch of old friends.” Plus, he loves being outside in Yosemite. Regulars to Badger Pass have fond memories of soaking in the bright Sierra sunshine from the deck.

When asked about what has changed during his time at Badger Pass, his answer is consistent with his focus on people — Nic’s retirement. Of course, there have been other changes as well, new lifts, and most recently a refresh that upgraded the deck and lodge, but according to Chuck, part of the beauty of Badger Pass is how faithful it has been to its roots. “The idea of it has stayed the same. It’s the same atmosphere as many years ago.”

Lessons at Badger Pass "It’s the same atmosphere as many years ago."

Lessons at Badger Pass “It’s the same atmosphere as many years ago.”

Badger Pass Ski Area Celebrates 80 Years in Yosemite National Park

Did you know that we’re celebrating the 80th anniversary of Badger Pass Ski Area in 2015? Since 1935, California’s first ski resort has taught generations of families to enjoy winter sports. Offering rental equipment and ski instruction – now including snowboarding – visitors to Yosemite National Park of all ages can learn new winter sport skills at Badger Pass Ski Area. Legendary Badger Pass ski instructor and U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame member Nic Fiore once said, “Come to Yosemite. We have a ski school which really teaches people to ski and focuses on beginner and family. You can have a really lovely day here.”(2) Nic arrived in Yosemite in 1948 and never left. It is estimated that he taught over 100,000 people to ski during his time in Yosemite. Things haven’t really changed at Badger Pass since Nic’s days as head of the Yosemite Ski School. The Badger Pups program – one of the first children’s ski programs in the country – still teaches Yosemite’s youngest visitors to ski and snowboard.

Nic Fiore was director of the Yosemite Ski School from 1956 to 2001

Nic Fiore was director of the Yosemite Ski School from 1956 to 2001

Always modest in size, Badger Pass Ski Area doesn’t compare to the large ski resorts at Lake Tahoe or in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. At an elevation of 7300 feet, Badger Pass Ski Area’s longest run is only 800 feet, but the impact that Badger Pass had on the growing popularity of skiing looms large. Though ski touring was always a popular sport for the Yosemite community and winter visitors, the idea of a resort with lifts and groomed slopes occurred to the head of concessionaire Yosemite Park & Curry Company, Donald Tressider, in 1934. The opening of the Glacier Point Road and Wawona Tunnel in 1933 made it possible for the YP & CC to create Badger Pass Ski Area 23 miles from Yosemite Valley in 1934 with the Badger Pass Ski House completed in 1935. Competitive ski races and contests and the addition of experienced European ski instructors to the Yosemite Ski School contributed to the popularity of Badger Pass in California and skiing as a winter sport in the United States. By 1936, the world’s greatest skiers were practicing for the Winter Olympics, and by 1937, state skiing championship races were being held at Badger Pass. By the 1940s, Badger Pass was welcoming over 70,000 skiers during the winter season and Donald Tressider had become vice president of the California Ski Association.

The first mechanical ski lift at Badger Pass was also the first mechanical lift not only in California but in the American west. Known as the Up-ski, the lift had sleds (with nicknames like “Big Bertha” and “Queen Mary”) that carried 8 people at a time to “Ski-Top”, the start of the Rail Creek, Bishop Creek and Strawberry Creek runs. Today, only Rail Creek is marked as a ski run, accessible from Badger Pass for experienced backcountry skiers, but the lift is long gone after it’s thirteen years of service beginning in 1935. After World War II, the ski industry had grown and lured skiers to places like Aspen, Colorado and Sun Valley Idaho. With so many options for skiers across the nation, Badger Pass Ski Area had to distinguish itself with one of the ski industry’s first all-inclusive packages, called the “Mid-Week Ski Special”. This special included lodging, dining, equipment rental, lift ticket, lesson and transportation from Yosemite Valley all for $25 dollars a day!

The Up-Ski was the first mechanical ski lift in the American west

The Up-Ski was the first mechanical ski lift in the American west

The Badger Pass Ski House (today’s day lodge) was designed by architect Eldridge T. Spencer and opened on December  17th in 1935. In 1954, the day lodge was enlarged by adding another building with a breezeway in between. The lounge area originally contained a large open fireplace with cast iron panels of skiing figures mounted above. The panels were designed by Robert Howard Boardman, who also designed the wildlife mural in the Mural Room at The Ahwahnee. The fireplace has since been removed, but the panels are now installed around the fireplace in the Mountain Room Lounge at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls in Yosemite Valley. Ski races continued to be hosted at Badger Pass during the 1950s and 1960s, though today only the Silver Ski race is hosted by the Yosemite Winter Club. In 1965, National Park Service approved the installation of chair lifts for the first time and the Badger Pass Ski House was renamed the Snowflake Day Lodge.

With all of it’s storied history, today’s winter visitor still finds Badger Pass Ski Area an uncomplicated place to take the family for a day of snowy fun in Yosemite. Snowboarders join skiers on the slopes and and a snow tubing hill has been added for the park’s youngest visitors. Equipment rental is available at the rental shop along with souvenirs and apparel at the ski shop. The free shuttle bus from Yosemite Valley provides daily transportation for lodging guests and private vehicles will find plenty of parking. Dine on the sun deck or inside the day lodge at the Skiers Grill or upstairs in the Snowflake Room. Rent lockers for your gear by the day or the season. Cross-country skiing is an option, along with snowshoeing, and rental equipment is available at the Cross-Country/Nordic Center. Groomed cross-country trails originate at Badger Pass and continue down the Glacier Point Road to the terminus at Glacier Point – one of Yosemite’s most spectacular views now covered with snow! If the 10 mile ski to Glacier Point is enough for one day, you can opt to stay overnight at the Glacier Point Ski Hut and cozy up to the fireplace while the hutkeeper prepares dinner. You won’t need to ski to earn your keep and enjoy winter in Yosemite Valley at The Ahwahnee, Yosemite Lodge at the Falls and Curry Village. Take advantage of great winter lodging deals like Stay Two Ski FREE and Stay ‘N Play.

 

 References:

1. Magic Yosemite Winters by Gene Rose

2. Mountain Dreamers: Visionaries of Sierra Nevada Skiing by Robert Frohlich

3. Yosemite’s Innkeepers: The Story of a Great Park and it’s Chief Concessionaires by Shirley Sargent

6 Ways to Enjoy Winter in Yosemite

1. Ice Skating

Where: Curry Village Ice Rink in Yosemite Valley
When: November through early March
How: Skate rentals available – and don’t forget the s’mores kits for the fire pit!

You can't see Half Dome, but evening ice skating sessions in #Yosemite are the best!

A video posted by Delaware North at Yosemite (@yosemite_dn) on

2. Skiing, Snowboarding and Snowtubing

Where: Badger Pass Ski Area
When: Mid-December through March
How: Lessons, rentals, and dining available

Ski instructor Harry gives Badger Pass Ski Area a thumbs-up this holiday week in #Yosemite.

A photo posted by Delaware North at Yosemite (@yosemite_dn) on

3. Chefs’ Holidays

Where: The Ahwahnee
When: January and February
How: Dine with famous chefs and attend cooking demos in an historic national park lodge

Chefs' Holidays cooking demonstration in #Yosemite with Chef Cal Stamenov. Amazing!

A photo posted by Delaware North at Yosemite (@yosemite_dn) on

4. Ostrander Ski Hut or Glacier Point Ski Hut:

Where: Backcountry lodging along the Glacier Point Road
When: Mid-December through March
How: Not accessible by vehicle in winter, you can snowshoe or cross-country ski to Yosemite’s ski huts

Cross country skiing on the Glacier Point Road today in #Yosemite.

A photo posted by Delaware North at Yosemite (@yosemite_dn) on

5. Snowshoeing

Where: Badger Pass Ski Area
When: Every day when enough snow covers the ground, evenings during the full moon
How: Rent snowshoes at Badger Pass Ski Area on your own, join park rangers or Delaware North at Yosemite interpretive naturalists on guided walks (snowshoes included)

#BadgerPassSkiArea in #Yosemite. Did you know it's California's original #ski area?

A photo posted by Delaware North at Yosemite (@yosemite_dn) on

6. Camera Walks

Where: Yosemite Valley
When: Several days a week in winter, find the schedule in the Yosemite Guide
How: With instructors from the Ansel Adams Gallery

Good news! With this week's snowfall in #Yosemite, Badger Pass Ski Area opens tomorrow, Sunday December 14th!

A photo posted by Delaware North at Yosemite (@yosemite_dn) on

When It Rains, It Spores! Mushrooms in Yosemite

Boletes

My name is Gena Wood. I work as a naturalist and historic guide for Delaware North at Yosemite. Part of my job is helping people understand the natural world (and hopefully fall more in love with it).  In my short time on this planet I’ve realized one of the most misunderstood (and feared) life forms is fungus. I’ve also realized one of the most of important and exciting life forms also happens to be fungus!

Now that rain (and snow!!) has started falling in Yosemite National Park we are not only seeing Yosemite Falls flowing again, we are seeing the  fungus among us: mushrooms!

What are mushrooms? Mushrooms are the fruiting body of mycelium, found underground. Imagine mycelium being the tree and the mushroom as the fruit growing on this tree. But don’t be fooled; mushrooms are not plants.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Similarly to humans, mushrooms cannot make food from the sun. Mushrooms are often parasitic, breaking down plant material, like rotting wood. Mushrooms play a very important role ecologically as our decomposers, keeping our forests healthy. But that is not all! Most plants actually depend on that underground mycelium to help their roots get water and nutrients.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Turkey Tails

Mushrooms wait until the right conditions to show their fruit, those conditions are usually from rain. The rain can be a promising sign for mushroom activity. Rain also helps mushrooms spread their spores. Spores are similar to seeds, helping the mushrooms disperse. Each species of mushroom has a different time of year you can find them, which makes mushroom hunting a year-round activity!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Oyster Mushrooms growing on a dead Cottonwood, along the Merced River

Most mushrooms grow on rotting wood or in the soil. What they grow on is helpful for learning how to identify mushrooms. Identifying mushrooms can be a challenging, yet rewarding experience. Many mushrooms are not edible, most of them won’t kill you either. If you aren’t 100% positive, then don’t eat them. Learning what mushrooms you can and cannot eat takes time and experience.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Honey Mushrooms- found only on wood.

Walking around the woods to find mushrooms isn’t just for those who eat mushrooms, but also for those that appreciate their beauty. Many times I walk away empty handed after a mushroom hunt. I never walk away disappointed though. Some of the most beautiful mushrooms are just for looks. I am always amazed at the variety of colors, shapes, smells, and sizes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yosemite Valley is full big things to look up at, sometimes you need a reminder to slow down and notice the small things. Have you noticed mushrooms growing in Yosemite?

All photos were taken in Yosemite Valley on December 9th and 10th by Gena Wood.

Though visitors are not allowed to take anything from Yosemite National Park, they are welcome to forage for mushrooms strictly for personal consumption – similar to fishing. However, we discourage any but the most knowledgeable from eating mushrooms foraged in the park.

The Four Seasons of Yosemite in Stained Glass

Tissiack Stained Glass at Yosemite Lodge 2014

“Tissiack” stained glass mural by Bill Poulson at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls

Guests at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls this summer may have noticed Yosemite’s autumn splendor well before the season began. Taking the form of a large stained glass mural, “Tissiack” is a work of art created by stained glass artist Bill Poulson. Featuring Half Dome surrounded by the flora and fauna of fall in Yosemite, the mural measures 8 feet high by 14 feet long. Displayed in the windows of the Cliff Room at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, “Tissiack” (the Native American name for Half Dome), was replaced this week by “The Chief” featuring El Capitan and the full moon on a winter night in Yosemite Valley.

Bill_Poulson

Artist Bill Poulson installing the “Tissiack” mural.

Stained Galss Mural Yosemite Lodge 2014

The transition from fall to winter as the new mural is installed

Artist Bill Poulson, a California native, maintains a studio in the town of Arnold. Inspired by a trip to Yosemite in 1985, Poulson opened a studio the next year and the plans for the Yosemite Mural Project as the “4 Seasons of Yosemite” began to take shape. Two murals have been completed – fall and winter – and the design for spring is complete. Once the design and composition is completed, it can take up to two years to perfect the full-scale drawings along with the actual glass cutting and assembly.  There are over 2200 pieces of glass in “Tissiack”.  The murals are created in the traditional method of creating stained glass with leaded glass and copperfoil, reinforced with steel. “Tissiack” was completed in 1989 and the winter mural, “The Chief”, was completed in 2008. Poulson hopes to complete the spring mural in 2015. Until then, visitors can view “The Chief” for a view of winter in Yosemite that continues throughout the season. Look for the display in the courtyard of Yosemite Lodge at the Falls next to the gift shop.

Winter Bill Poulson

“The Chief” stained glass mural by Bill Poulson

For more information about artist Bill Poulson and the Yosemite Mural Project, visit his website: www.williampoulson.com

 

Favorite Yosemite Spots: Mirror Lake

Morning at #MirrorLake in #YosemiteValley. #Yosemite #California #NationalParks

A photo posted by Delaware North at Yosemite (@yosemite_dn) on

As part of an ongoing series, we’ll feature the favorite places of Yosemite community members and park visitors. Mirror Lake, at the base of Half Dome in Yosemite Valley is a favorite spot of Gena Wood, who lives and works in Yosemite Valley. Gena spends a lot of her time climbing, cycling, and hiking. Mirror Lake is one place that always draws her back for more.

Kenny's Lunchtime Walk in #Yosemite: Mount Watkins reflected in Mirror Lake. Photo by Kenny Karst.

A photo posted by Delaware North at Yosemite (@yosemite_dn) on

“I never thought I would find myself saying that Mirror Lake is my favorite spot…at first. With each return visit I find myself in a trance. I am mesmerized by the rock faces around me. I am fascinated by the constant change you can watch happen throughout the year. I always want to go back.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After work I ride my bicycle up the steep hill to the top, knowing the reward will come not only when I make it to the top but also when I get to ride down the hill. As I huff and I puff my way up that hill, I just know it will be worth it. When I make it to the top, it is worth it. I feel at peace. I am surrounded by Mount Watkins, Half Dome, Washington’s Column and North Dome

Another morning view in #Yosemite: #HalfDome from #MirrorLake. We noticed the 'lake' level is already receding. #YosemiteValley #California

A photo posted by Delaware North at Yosemite (@yosemite_dn) on

I stare up at Half Dome with a view unlike any other. I think about the hikers who’ve made it up the cables. The climbers who have made it up the sheer vertical face. I am inspired.  I feel small; There is something bigger out there. As the sun begins to set people start to make their way down the hill. California Quail make a run for it, out of the willows and across the rocks. Deer search for food. The setting sun makes Half Dome glow. Alpenglow swallows the mountains around me. I am left alone, engulfed in happiness. This is home.”

Kenny's Lunchtime Walk in #Yosemite: A perfect reflection in perfectly named Mirror Lake. #YosemiteValley

A photo posted by Delaware North at Yosemite (@yosemite_dn) on

The name Mirror Lake is truly a misnomer. Mirror Lake is actually overflow water from Tenaya Creek. As Tenaya Creek becomes drier, Mirror Lake follows suit. During the spring and early summer, Mirror Lake appears to be a lake, reflecting the granite surrounding it. When dry, Mirror Lake still gives reflections, personal reflections, a place take in the beauty around you. Regardless of the season, Mirror Lake is great place to explore. 

Snow in Yosemite: Badger Pass Ski Area in Pictures

As California’s original ski resort, Badger Pass Ski Area has been a favorite winter activity in Yosemite National Park for generations of families. We invite you to enjoy some of our favorite Badger Pass photos, all taken by long-time Yosemite resident and acclaimed photographer Chris Falkenstein.

Badger Pass

One of the many beautiful clear days at Badger Pass.

At the Top

Skiers get ready to take to the mountain.

Snowy Day

The base of the mountain on a snowy day.

Grooming

A groomer prepares the runs.

Ringing the Bell

Chuck Carter, head of Yosemite’s Winter Sports School, rings the ski school bell.

Racing

Snowboarders participate in a race at Badger Pass

Ranger Station in Snow

The ranger station after a big snow.

Day Lodge

The Day Lodge

Sunset at Badger Pass

Sunset at Badger Pass

The History of Ice Skating in Yosemite

ice rink sign

historic ice rink 1933With its lofty location in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, Yosemite National Park has always been a popular venue for winter sports. Today you can ski, snowboard, snow tube, snowshoe and cross-country ski at Badger Pass Ski Area and ice skate at the Curry Village Ice Rink. But both Badger Pass Ski Area and the Curry Village Ice Rink are some of the oldest facilities in Yosemite with a storied history. Though ice skating on the Merced River had always been a popular winter activity in Yosemite Valley when the ice was solid enough, the first ice skating rink in Yosemite National Park was built in 1929 in reaction to the news that Yosemite was being considered as the location for the 1932 Winter Olympics. As the coldest area in Yosemite Valley with little direct sun in winter, the ice rink was naturally located at Curry Village. The original 60,000 square foot rink was built where the Curry Village parking lot – both paved and dirt – stands today. Ice skating was taking place in this same spot before the construction of a formal rink by flooding the parking lot with water each night that was then ready for skating by morning. Once established, the Curry Village Ice Rink was considered the premier ice skating center in California with its stunning natural setting and the support of the Yosemite Winter Club.

historic hockey

Hockey: Oakland American Legion vs. the Yosemite Winter Club

Not only was the rink used by park visitors, but also hosted speed skating races, figure skating exhibitions, curling, hockey games and winter carnivals. The first “Fancy Ice Skating Carnival” took place in 1928, the year the Yosemite Winter Club was founded. In 1931, the San Joaquin Valley Sierra Winter Sports Carnival also employed the Curry Village Ice Rink with curling matches and a tug of war competition on the ice. By 1933, the annual California State Figure Skating Championship took place in Yosemite entertaining grandstands filled with onlookers as colored glass candle holders set into the snowbanks surrounding the rink created a festive atmosphere. Hockey was a popular rink sport throughout the 1930s, and players included professional teams and collegiate exhibitions.

ice rinkMoved from its original location, the current ice rink at the Curry Village Recreation Center was built in the 1970s at the location of the former Curry Village Garage – a structure that was destroyed by an arson fire. Often cited as one of the world’s best ice rinks by travel magazines, today’s rink includes a skate rental program, a large warming hut for skaters to stow their boots and a fire pit to warm their toes. From November to early March, Delaware North at Yosemite operates the ice rink with a staff that maintains safety for skaters and the condition of the ice with a zamboni. Curry Village Ice Rink is open daily for several day and evening skating sessions, conditions permitting.

$10.50 per adult, per session
$10.00 per child, per session
$4.00 for skate rental

For more on the history of ice skating in Yosemite see “Magic Yosemite Winters” by Gene Rose.

Kenny’s Lunchtime Walk in Yosemite

Happy Weekend! #kennyslunchtimewalk #Yosemite #yosemitevalley #california

A photo posted by Delaware North at Yosemite (@yosemite_dn) on

Are you familiar with Kenny’s Lunchtime Walk in Yosemite? If you have an Instagram account, you can find a collection of breathtaking Yosemite photos by searching with hashtag #kennyslunchtimewalk. If you are not an Instagrammer, you can see some of the photos on our Pinterest board, “Kenny’s Lunchtime Walk in Yosemite“. But what exactly is Kenny’s Lunchtime Walk and who is Kenny?

Kenny Karst is the Integrated Marketing Manager for DNC Parks and Resorts at Yosemite. He has lived and worked in Yosemite Valley for thirteen years and he also happens to be a professional sports photographer. In the spring of 2014, Kenny began sharing photos from his daily lunch walk with us to post on the DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite Instagram account and we called them “Kenny’s Lunchtime Walk in #Yosemite”. It’s enough that Kenny’s photos of his daily walks in Yosemite Valley are stunning, but soon enough, followers began asking, “Who is Kenny?” To answer that question, we hosted a giveaway on Facebook: Lunch With Kenny in Yosemite. The randomly selected winner from 140 applicants won a free night’s stay in Yosemite lodging by choosing Curry Village or Yosemite Lodge at the Falls and lunch with Kenny in the Ahwahnee Dining Room.

kenny campaign banner

Today, contest winner Deb and her son Derek participated in Kenny’s Lunchtime Walk prior to having lunch at The Ahwahnee. Viewing Yosemite in all of its fall glory, Kenny guided Deb and Derek down the bike path toward Mirror Lake and Backpackers Campground on the east end of Yosemite Valley. After walking and photographing the sunny fall morning, all three headed for the famous Ahwahnee Dining Room.

Kenny's Lunchtime Walk in #Yosemite: dogwood leaves in fall are some of Yosemite Valley's best fall color.

A photo posted by Delaware North at Yosemite (@yosemite_dn) on

Deb & Derek 102714 SQ

Deb had this to say about her experience: “Thank you so much for the wonderful walk and lunch! Derek and I were honored to be your first “Kenny’s Walk” recipients. We saw parts of Yosemite that were completely new to us, and the weather was gorgeous. Lunch at the Ahwahanee ‎was delicious, and “Kenny’s Special” dessert was the crowning touch! Best of all, we learned so much from Kenny about Yosemite. It’s also the first time we’ve stayed at Yosemite Lodge, and it’s been thrilling to experience the Valley Floor in a whole new way.”

Though Kenny uses professional equipment for his sports photography, he uses his iPhone 5s for his lunchtime walk photos. He uses Photoshop to minimally process the photos before they get posted to Instagram and shared on Facebook and Twitter. Kenny is also an accomplished musician who plays the trombone in local bands like The Groove Orphans. Kenny’s adult daughter, Renee, also lives and works in Yosemite Valley and you may have seen her contributions to social media, such as an amazing video of a bobcat at Curry Village. Kenny’s favorite spot in Yosemite is Tuolumne Meadows, and he is an avid kayaker who loves to kayak High Sierra lakes like Tenaya Lake in Yosemite. Kenny is a person who loves Yosemite and is lucky enough to live and work in one of America’s most treasured places.

Learning to Share: An Interview with Nell Newman and Jesse Cool from Session 5 of Chefs’ Holidays in Yosemite

shareThe remarkable cookbook, Share, gathers together the stories of women in war-torn countries as it explains how food connects people in each country. Interwoven within these stories are recipes from the book’s collaborators, people such as Paul McCartney, Meryl Streep, and Judi Dench.

In January 2015 at Chefs’ Holidays in Yosemite, two of the book’s collaborators will be joining us – Nell Newman, daughter of Paul Newman and head of Newman’s Own Organics, and Jesse Cool of Flea Street Café in Menlo Park. We recently had the opportunity to talk with Nell and Jesse about their experiences working on this cookbook.

How did you get involved with the Share cookbook?

Jesse: I was approached by Lauri Pastrone, the woman who conceived the book and made Share happen through her work with a group of amazing women. Also, I have always had a draw to Africa. Most of my reading for years was about despair turned to hope and love in the midst of the worst of the worst. After meeting Lauri, I sponsored two women in Rwanda and then joined a trip with Lauri and others to go and cook in Rwanda and meet one of the women I sponsored (a few photos in the book are the women I cooked with). You can actually read the story on page 212 of Share.

Nell: My dear friend Jesse Cool asked me if I had recipe to donate to this wonderful book she was helping put together to support the Women for Women International Project, which supports women in war-torn countries.

What does the Share cookbook mean to you?

Jesse: It means love, beauty, joy in the midst of pain and dark injustice, generosity, local and global care for women, and families in need.

Nell: The Share cookbook is a perfect example of how together we can make a change; through food, education, and love for humanity.

What did you learn from collaborating on this project?

Jesse: I met amazingly generous women who are real and care without attachment. It took my personal and businesses beyond my decades of being a local girl to stretch out and reach out to our abundance on a more global level. It helped me and my staff attach more deeply to our own beautiful life and learn how to give to those who have less.

What is your favorite recipe in the cookbook?

Jesse: Well, honestly it is Nell’s olive oil cake. I make it and serve it in the summer with berries and in winter with honey crème fraiche. The first time I had it, Lauri made it for me and I had to take a few slices home to eat as a midnight snake. I love Nell, so it meant even more that it is her recipe and so good. It holds up well for days, and is so yummy.

Any hints about what you’ll be preparing for Chefs’ Holidays in Yosemite this year?

Jesse: In my recipe, I tried to offer something that I felt was more African in feel…that is how I came up with the pork stew.

Nell: I’m definitely making my Orange Scented Almond Olive Oil Cake

Are you excited about coming to Yosemite? Why?

Jesse: My kids have always known Yosemite as their summer and winter and whenever-we-can-steal-a-day-away place to go. We say that it remains the most beautifully moving place on the plant, and I have traveled the world cooking in many amazing places.

Nell: How could anyone not be excited about coming to Yosemite! I’ve only been there once before and have never seen it in its winter splendor! I can’t wait!

Interview by Jeanne Haegele