Jeff Badger: In Loving Memory to a Dear Friend! Celebrate His Life, 8/7!

Jeff Badger: In Loving Memory to a Dear Friend! Celebrate His Life, 8/7!

On Wednesday, July 24, Telluride lost a favorite son in Jeff Badger. Jeff was an entrepreneur, restauranteur, raconteur, ex-newspaper guy, ex-military, husband, father (to Molly), and friend to anyone privileged to know him well – which thankfully included us. Donations would be welcome in Jeff’s name to the Telluride Adaptive Sports Program, P.O. Box 2254, Telluride, Colorado 81435

A celebration of Jeff’s life is scheduled for Wednesday, August 7, at The Elks, 4 p.m. – close. The Telluride community is invited. The tribute includes a buffet, drinks (cash bar), music, and talk.

In Telluride, Jeff Badger’s name came to twin with Thai food. His two eateries, Siam (now under new ownership) and Siam Talay (in partnership with Telski) were gathering places  for locals and guests– with very long lines. But alway worth the wait. Jeff was also omnipresent at music events.

Please scroll down to read about one of our most memorable (among many) evenings with Jeff Badger, a Thanksgiving dinner we shared in 2013. His official obituary is also below.

Every November, folks check out the Really Big Issues: brining versus barding, tenting versus turning, organic or heritage.

Clint and I decided to check out. Period.

Plans for the holiday included a leisurely cross-country ski outing up at Trout Lake, followed by a day of outsourcing our brains to the Cloud. Our Thanksgiving feast? A Google search answered the key words “leftover turkey” with more than 300,000 promises of recipes to dispatch it: creamed, curried, a la king, potpie, casserole. Bah, Humbug. There was broccoli pesto in the freezer.

Then Jeff Badger called.

Why not celebrate Thanksgiving with him at what was then his new restaurant in Mountain Village, Siam Talay Grille at the Inn at Lost Creek? Jeff was then (and remained) a close friend and owner of Siam Telluride, then an eight-year-old success story, which Ski magazine described breathlessly in its October “Top 50 Ski Resorts” issue:

“Siam Telluride offers more than just Telluride’s best Thai food; it offers some of the best Thai food you’ll find anywhere. Expect Siam’s Talay Grille, a… sister restaurant opening in Mountain Village to be just as delish.”

We seconded that emotion, particularly timely since we had just returned from two weeks in Thailand, where we traveled much of the time on our bellies.

On offer that Thanksgiving: Comfort Curry Turkey. (Think 1/2 bottle of Southern Comfort.)

“There’s a little bit of redneck in everyone,” Jeff quipped.

Game on.

Siam Talay is housed in the Inn at Lost Creek in Mountain Village and occupies (more or less) the same space as the restaurant formerly known as “9545.” But the room had experienced a total facelift. Gone was the bright minimalism of the old eatery. In its place, an elegant room with a Zen vibe. In fact, Jeff planned every detail to encourage a full-throated exhale: sueded walls accented with river rocks and stone (Leo McNamara did that work); rich wooden floors (like the floors of a Thai temple); Asian antiques from T. (for Teesha) Karn Imports; and soft lighting to set a mood of sensual ease.

The food? Well, as every fan of Siam – especially fans of its imaginative hand rolls – knows, Jeff Badger was a mad scientist. His turkey could not just be a turkey. It had to be drunk. On Thanksgiving, the maestro conjured the rest of the menu too and per usual, the brilliant young chef at Talay, then Adam Pace, executed Jeff’s ideas with panache, adding his own spin.

The stuffing involved shredding dark meat and topping it off with a Massaman curry gravy. The amuse bouche involved a trilogy of taste treats few would think of putting together: a crisp cucumber, fresh seared tuna with spicy choo chee sauce. The soup was made from a Kaboucha squash and curried. Parsnips got smashed to resemble mashed potatoes. Carrots were glazed in ginger honey and grilled alongside zucchini. Dessert? Well, it was apple pie and pumpkin pie – done in hand rolls fashioned from edible soy paper.

How to choose between Siam Telluride (downtown) and Siam’s Talay Grille (uptown)? Jeff used to answere cryptically with a Thai expression: “Same same, but different.”

And then he expanded upon his trope:

“Downtown the emphasis is on traditional food such as drunken noodles, green curried pad thai, stir fries and the like, although the menu does have contemporary accents. ‘Uptown’ at Talay the accent is on contemporary, composed dishes such as Thai shepherd’s pie and Vindaloo chicken, although there are some traditional dishes. We also feature fresh fish with different Thai sauces on the side. I would describe Talay as Pan Asian.”

We would add “mellow,” “exotic” and “sophisticated.” While the vibe downtown is edgy and scene-y.

It was a Thanksgiving dinner to remember. And, departing from tradition, no one left the table in a huff.

Only a fool would leave a table set by Jeff Badger.

Today, all his close friends and especially his darling Molly mourn his loss.

Jeff Badger’s official obit (from Portland’s Press Herald):

Colorado – Jeffrey Southgate Badger of Telluride, Colo., and Kennebunkport, Maine, passed away unexpectedly at University of Colorado Hospital on Wednesday, July 24, 2019.

Jeff was born in Portland, Maine, on June 25, 1949, son of Robert and Lois Badger. Jeff grew up in Kennebunkport, Maine, and Sudbury, Mass. He attended Nasson College and enlisted in the Army. He served in Korea during the Vietnam War. His time in Korea allowed him the opportunity to explore the Far East, where he developed a lifelong love for the Thai culture.

Jeff loved to travel and meet people. He and daughter, Molly, took yearly summer journeys throughout the world. His exploits include: Owner of Mountain Maids in Breckenridge, Colo., owning and driving a bus for Sunshine Line touring from Amsterdam to Nepal, owner of various Siam Restaurants in Colorado. Jeff left an indelible mark on the Telluride community and will be sorely missed.

Jeff, a.k.a. “Crazy Cowboy”, and beloved wife, Su, were a fixture on the Nascar circuit across the country, a great passion of Jeff’s.

Jeff was predeceased by father, Robert Badger and wife, Surang Miller. Jeff is survived by his daughter, Molly Roden Badger (Rena Badger); mother, Lois Badger; brother, Dana Badger; sister, Pamela Badger Davis, many nieces, nephews and their children. We are grateful to Sondra McKernan for her devotion and caregiving following the passing of his wife, Su. With Sondra’s help Jeff was able to return to Kennebunkport and continue his travels. Jeff leaves behind an untold number of friends and acquaintances around the world who will forever blessed having known him.

Molly and Jeff are grateful to both the Thai Monks in Tuscon, Ariz., and Denver, Colo., for their support over the last few months. Continuing with Jeff’s desires, a Thai Buddhist ceremony and celebration of life will be held in Telluride, Colo., in the near future.

1 Comment
  • Lawry de Bivort
    Posted at 20:29h, 08 August

    Thanks for this most thoughtful and heartfelt write—up, Sus. I nice send-off for a generous and creative man.