‘Chopped Junior’ winner Fuller Goldsmith dies at 17



Fuller Goldsmith, the Alabama youngster who won Food Network’s Chopped Junior as a seventh-grader, has died following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 17.

The production company behind the show, Magic Elves, confirmed Goldsmith’s death as they memorialized him in a post on Instagram on Wednesday.

“We are devastated after hearing about the loss of our Top Chef Junior alum, Fuller Goldsmith,” the company shared next to a photo slideshow of the young man’s time on the show. “He was an incredible chef and the strongest kid we’ve ever met. From the minute he was introduced to us, we knew he would make an impact on everyone around him and be a positive force in the cooking world. To his family, we give all our love as they mourn the loss of someone truly special.”

Fuller Goldsmith

Fuller Goldsmith

Fuller Goldsmith/instagram Fuller Goldsmith         

Food Network, the network that airs Chopped Junior, also mourned the teen, sharing a statement with EW on Wednesday evening.

“We were devastated to learn of Fuller Goldsmith’s passing. In addition to being a culinary force and a fierce competitor, he was a supremely generous person. Our hearts go out to Fuller’s family and his friends as they mourn the loss of such a phenomenal young man,” the statement read.

Fuller had battled cancer from the age of 3, going in and out of remission. He went through several years of chemotherapy, spinal surgery, and a bone marrow transplant. Guy Fieri — one of his culinary idols — helped him through it, as the young man spent hours watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and Guy’s Big Bite as inspiration. “It was therapy,” Fuller told EW of his watching marathons.

EW was there as Goldsmith met Fieri at the Stagecoach music festival in 2018. After a chat, where Goldsmith shared his love for cooking at tailgate parties, the pair prepared burritos together on-site for Ashton Kutcher, who just happened to be passing by (see the video at the top of this story). 

Fuller Goldsmith

Fuller Goldsmith

Fuller Goldsmith/instagram Fuller Goldsmith         

“[Fieri] was very funny, very laid back, and a really good guy and it was awesome to finally meet him,” Fuller told the Tuscaloosa Patch in August 2020 as he recounted meeting the chef.

The generous teen actually donated his entire Chopped Junior prize — $10,000 — to Birmingham’s Children’s of Alabama hospital, where he was also treated. He gave his winnings to help other pediatric patients and their families.

By 2020, the one-time Top Chef Junior competitor (he had to leave due to his cancer battle), had beaten the disease four times. In February of 2021, however, Goldsmith confirmed in an Instagram post that his cancer had returned. 

“Unfortunately, the news regarding the tumor was not what I was hoping. The same Leukemia is back,” he wrote at the time. “The plan is to start proton radiation at UAB as soon as I can….hopefully within the next two weeks. I will have 12 days of radiation and then more chemo to make sure it’s gone once and for all. Round 5- I’m ready to fight! #allidoiswin.”

Goldsmith spent a lot of time at the Southern Ale House restaurant in Tuscaloosa, Ala., over the pandemic, telling the Patch he was “trying to come up with new recipes during this quarantine.”

As he discussed his love of the culinary arts with the outlet, he expressed an interest in fine dining cuisine.

“I’m into really fancy ingredients, truffles, caviar, all that stuff,” he said. “I think, to me, that’s really fun to make. Everything has precision, and you have to focus really hard on it, so that’s what I like.”

Goldsmith had hoped to go to culinary school and one day open a restaurant.

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