Searchers find body of missing ex-White House chef

Body of Ex-White House Chef Found

TAOS, N.M. (AP) -- Searchers have found the body of a former White House chef who had been missing for more than a week after going hiking in the New Mexico mountains, authorities said.

The body of 61-year-old Walter Scheib was found Sunday night near a hiking trail in mountains in the Taos area, the New Mexico State Police said.

"The body was discovered off the immediate trail," a State Patrol statement said.

Authorities did not provide a cause of death or any other details about the discovery, saying rescuers were still gathering information and more details would be released later.

Walter Scheib, White House Chef found dead
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Searchers find body of missing ex-White House chef
Walter Scheib was the White House chef for 11 years under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He was in Eagle, Idaho, to prepare a meal with local chef Jon Mortimer at his Franco Latino restaurant. (Photo by Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman/MCT via Getty Images)
Chef to the President of the United States, Walter Scheib (C) followed by the Italian, Domenico De Cesaris (R), and members of the club - Chefs to Heads of State, shows their identity cards to policeman on arrival at the Elycee Paris to meet Bernadette Chirac, wife of the President, 27 August 2003. Each year since the clubs inception in 1977, the chefs meet in a different country, this year around 30 have come to Paris to chat about their work. AFP PHOTO/MEHDI FEDOUACH (Photo credit should read MEHDI FEDOUACH/AFP/Getty Images)
Picture taken 25 August 2003 at the Plaza Athenee in Paris shows chefs throwing their toques in the air during the annual meeting of the Club des Chefs des Chefs (C.C.C.-Club of Heads of State Chefs) presided by Walter Scheib, chef of US President George W. Bush. The C.C.C. created in 1977 gathers around thirty members from all around the world. AFP PHOTO JEAN-LOUP GAUTREAU (Photo credit should read JEAN-LOUP GAUTREAU/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES: Walter Scheib (first row, R), menu-master for the US president and current Club des Chefs des Chefs (CCC) chairman, poses with fellow chefs to world leaders, 26 July, 2004 during the Chefs' Summit at the Williard Hotel in Washington, DC. More than 20 members of the Club des Chefs des Chefs (CCC), the organization of culinary artists who cater to the world's heads of state, are meeting in Washington this week. The Club des Chefs des Chefs, which Scheib has convened in various countries since 1977 to share recipes and discuss the latest trends in international cuisine. AFP PHOTO/TIM SLOAN (Photo credit should read TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Scheib was White House chef for 11 years under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and recently moved from Florida to Taos.

He reportedly went for a hike June 13 in the mountains near the Taos Ski Valley. His girlfriend reported him missing the next day.

Taos police found his vehicle Tuesday parked at the Yerba Canyon trailhead. The 4-mile trail follows a canyon bottom before climbing to 3,700 feet in elevation, according to the U.S. Forest Service website.

As the search progressed, the New Mexico State Police said they were exhausting all resources in the effort. The U.S. Air Force and the New Mexico National Guard assisted, but an air search was made difficult with the presence of high mountain peaks, deep canyons and dense vegetation. The rough terrain has also made the ground search harder.

The search Sunday included resources from the Civil Air Patrol, the National Guard, the State Police, and volunteers.

Scheib, who graduated from New York's Culinary Institute of America in 1979 and later worked at grand hotels in Florida and West Virginia, became White House executive chef in April 1994 when First Lady Hillary Clinton hired him.

He was in charge of a full-time staff of five and oversaw a part-time staff of 20. Scheib was known for refocusing the White House kitchen on distinctly American cuisine with seasonal ingredients and contemporary flavors. He was responsible for preparing everything from First Family meals to formal State Dinners.

Last month, Scheib cooked dinner for a cancer charity's fundraiser at a hotel in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He told the Times Leader newspaper that preparing meals at the White House had required him to have a different outlook on food and cooking.

"When you're working at the White House, it's not a hotel or a restaurant, or a private club. It's a personal home," Scheib said. "Our goal wasn't just to cook food at the White House, it was to give the First Family an island of normal in a very, very crazy world."

His creations were served to many world leaders including Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac, Vicente Fox, Nelson Mandela and Boris Yeltsin.

Scheib left the White House in 2005. He became a food consultant and speaker, often entertaining guests with anecdotes from his time at the White House. He also appeared on the Food Network's "Iron Chef America" show in 2006.

Scheib also wrote a book about his experiences entitled "White House Chef: Eleven Years, Two Presidents, One Kitchen." It was published in 2007.

He also has been actively involved in Atlanta's City of Refuge, which provides services to homeless and abused residents.

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