Jade Thomas Nelson is a native and resident of Palm Springs, California. His ongoing love of history, architecture, food and culture was sparked by countless childhood trips to museums, landmarks, restaurants and roadside attractions. He caught the tour ‘bug’ and became an official campus tour guide while a student at The Culinary Institute of America in New York where he earned a bachelor’s in Hospitality Management with a commendation for outstanding service. The Institute’s history as a former Jesuit seminary further kindled Jade’s curiosity about the people and places of our past.
After apprenticeships at Berkeley’s famed Chez Panisse and the Ritz-Carlton, cooking and serving to ladies and gentlemen, Jade worked as a pastry chef in Seattle. Memorable positions include formative jobs at both Smoke Tree Ranch and The Willows Historic Inn before enjoying a brief stint as restaurant critic at The Desert Sun (Gannett) with over 20 published critiques. For ten years, Jade co-managed the Orbit In, a mid-century modern Palm Springs boutique inn of international renown. It was there he assumed the role as consummate concierge and took great care to discern and meet the interests and expectations of guests, many of whom remain friends.
Over the years, Jade’s travels have taken him from the monkey forests of Bali and the vineyards of Penticton, BC to ancient ruins on the Greek Isle of Delos and the Buddhist monastery of Po Lin in Hong Kong as well as exotic and cultural destinations in between. His latest travel adventure includes finding the Capuchin Convent at Amalfi that inspired Pearl McManus to build similar rock walls in Palm Springs’ Tennis Club area. He has taken the time to seek out and explore many unique places during his travels and to volunteer for organizations dear to him. Jade’s respect for history has fostered a penchant for research and a passion for preservation. Through giving us a glimpse into our past, his tours create a more interesting present that informs our future.
- Palm Springs Art Museum, Architecture & Design Council, founding member
- Palm Springs Historic Site Preservation Board, past member and vice chair
- PS Modern Committee, member
- PS Preservation Foundation, member and volunteer
- Palm Springs Historical Society, scholarship recipient and volunteer
- Los Angeles Conservancy, member
- California Preservation Foundation, past president’s circle member
- Modernism Week, volunteer
- Riverside County Parks Historic Commission, invited speaker
- Historical Society of Southern California, member