Food Culinary 08

Lee R. Garfield

October 28, 1957 ~ December 1, 2020 (age 63)


Lee Robert Garfiled, age 63, died of sudden natural causes on December 1, 2020 in Aspen, Colorado. A Colorado resident for over 20 years, originally from Trumansburg, NY in the Finger Lakes Region. He was born in Ithaca, NY and a graduate of Charles O. Dickerson High School in Trumansburg, where he participated in varsity basketball and football. He loved his high school years and friends very much. Upon graduation Lee held an interest in the hospitality industry especially culinary arts, so he worked for many local restaurants, most notably O’Malley’s on Cayuga Lake. People to this day, remember Lee and the great meals he prepared for them. After a head chef job offer came to him from afar, he headed to the Alaskan Wilderness to a remote rafting and fishing camp, only accessible by plane, which hosted many famous folk including Sam Walton (founder of Walmart) who presented Lee with a special fly rod for a tip. Lee told his family there was no power or other amenities; he kept his foodstuffs to prepare in special wooden boxes he constructed-anchored them in the very cold mountain stream-nature’s refrigerator! Quite an accomplishment for 3 meals a day.

Lee loved his most recent job at the Belly Up in Aspen, CO which combined his love of music and culinary craft. He was the personal chef for many celebrities, talked of his chats with Kevin Costner and Mel Gibson and how down to earth folks they were. Lee also was personal chef to famous celebrity musical groups performing at the club including ZZ Top, Styx, REO Speedwagon, and as a lifelong fan of the Beatles, his lifetime dream came true, when he was able to make a special soup for Ringo Starr and so many more!  Lee was also responsible for the entire entourage traveling with the bands, attending to special requested dining, vegan or otherwise. Sometimes the request list was pages long, that he would receive before an event. What an organizer he was to successfully cater to their unique needs and able to navigate the many personalities his craft required. The Belly up unfortunately closed due to the virus situation but Lee remained working at the Butcher Block in Aspen, enjoying the other employees and serving food to local residents and visitors.

Lee loved the mountains, enjoyed skiing, his mountain bike, riding miles into the mountain to find the best fly fishing spots and to search for wild mushrooms, another favorite past time. His most treasured find on one of his mountain trips was to find a Revolutionary War cannon ball, which he donated to a local museum. Loved NY Yankees, Syracuse Orange and NASCAR and was especially fond of the Winter X Games in Aspen where he was often called upon to provide large banquets for athletes competing at the games.  Lee also gave of his time, to the Pitkin County Volunteer Bear Patrol, rehoming bears that had ventured into populated areas.

Lee is survived by his loving mother Jerilea (Mark) Garfield Day of Hector, NY; his beloved sister Lynn Garfield (Scott) Porter of Ovid, NY;  his two special nieces, Amanda of Geneva and Hannah of Ovid, and an aunt, Phyllis Garfield of Waverly, NY. He was preceded in death by his father, Joseph Garfield.

The family wishes to extend special thanks to all of Lee’s friends in Aspen for their extremely kind assistance to our family here in NYS. Also a special thank you to Mr. Michael Kehoe for the thoughtful way he let “The Burg” know of the untimely passing of Lee.  He truly described our loved one to the core, most notably “A Gentle Giant.” No service will be held due to present virus crisis. Lee would want all to stay home and be safe. A private family gathering will be held at later date.

In his final act of kindness and generosity, Lee was an organ and tissue donor. Please honor and remember Lee in your thoughts and prayers, and kindly consider a donation in his memory to the Trumansburg Alumni Association.

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