Ex White House chef missing in New Mexico mountains

TAOS, N.M. – A search effort got underway in the mountains of New Mexico Sunday.  

It centers around a former White House top chef, who served under two presidents.

He disappeared more than a week ago, and now authorities are following any leads that could bring him home. 

For more than a decade, Walter Scheib was the White House executive chef, dazzling the Bushes and the Clintons with his distinctly American cuisine. 

But now, the 61-year-old is missing after going on a hike alone in New Mexico over a week ago. 

Authorities have launched a massive search as friends hold onto hope. 

Martin Mangiello, a long time friend was the executive chef at Camp David when Scheib served at the Clinton White House. He says both in the kitchen, and life, Scheib always has a backup plan. 

“I know this guy is cunning, not an average person, not a quitter,”  said Mangiello.

Authorities say Scheib set out on a hike by himself last Saturday near the mountains of the Taos Ski Valley, 70-miles from Santa Fe. 

When he didn’t return, a loved one called police.

“He did enjoy being outside I believe, though the word was used that he was probably an amateur hiker,” said a park ranger.

Crews searching by air and land located his car on Tuesday at the base of a popular trail. They say cell phone signals suggest Scheib may have hiked a dangerous four-mile trek near the popular Lobo Peak. 

“So we’re looking for the terrain itself being very rugged, very mountainous, steep canyons and very high mountains,” the ranger said. 

Scheib, first hired by then first lady Hillary Clinton, has appeared on NBC’s Today Show.

“Whatever the first family wants, it’s their home, they’ll have it and it won’t take a day to do it. It will literally happen instantaneously,”  Mangiello said.

He became a culinary star after leaving Pennsylvania Avenue, winning an iron chef competition. 

Officials say the search will continue.

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