Man is called gifted chef with generous heart |

Man is called gifted chef with generous heart

Special to the Vail DailyThere will be a memorial service for Jeff Sample, right, a longtime Minturn local, Sunday at the Minturn Town Council Chambers.

MINTURN – Jeff Sample loved the outdoors, loved to ski, loved to cook and loved his friends.

“He was a sweet spirit,” said Bruce Plummer, who worked with Sample at the Minturn Saloon. “I loved him a lot. One of his favorite sayings was, ‘I love you too much.'”

Sample, 46, of Minturn, was found dead Tuesday in the Eagle River outside of Minturn. The chef had worked at the Saloon for 11 years and had previously worked at Vendetta’s, the Alpenrose, Ambrosia and Pasta Palace. Sample, a native of Mooers, N.Y., had lived in the valley for some 20 years.

“Jeff was a person who loved the outdoors, liked to go biking in the summertime and skiing in the winter,” said friend Dave Clapp. “He was a person who cared about everyone individually. He would take time and cook special dinners. He was a really good cook.”

Co-worker and friend Lisa Sprug recalled how everyone in town would bring their kids into the Saloon because Sample would have freshly baked cookies to give out.

“He was wonderfully smart and generous and a friend to everyone,” Sprug said.

Minturn Saloon owner Andy Kaufman remembered Sample as a gifted chef with a generous heart.

“I think his friends cared about him deeply, and it was because of his great heart and his generous way,” Kaufman said.

A memorial service for Sample will be held at 2 p.m., Sunday at the Minturn Town Council Chambers. Refreshments will follow at the Minturn Saloon.

An autopsy conducted Wednesday was inconclusive in determining the cause of Sample’s death, said Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis. More tests will be done, she said. The death is not considered to be suspicious, Bettis said.

Officials believe Sample, who was reported missing Monday, may have been fishing. His truck was found nearby.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or

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