Young Tuscaloosa cancer survivor becomes cooking show champion

Tuscaloosa teen becomes champion chef
Updated: May. 5, 2017 at 11:39 AM CDT
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Fuller on "Chopped Junior." (Source: Food Network)
Fuller on "Chopped Junior." (Source: Food Network)
Fuller cooks in his Tuscaloosa home. (Source: Terri Brewer/WBRC)
Fuller cooks in his Tuscaloosa home. (Source: Terri Brewer/WBRC)
Smoked chicken with grilled corn salad and fresh greens, dressed with balsamic vinaigrette, all...
Smoked chicken with grilled corn salad and fresh greens, dressed with balsamic vinaigrette, all made by Fuller Goldsmith. (Source: Terri Brewer/WBRC)

TUSCALOOSA COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - A young chef from Tuscaloosa is making a national name for himself and making his hometown proud, by winning the Food Network show Chopped Junior. This isn't the first time 13-year-old Fuller Goldsmith has become a champion.

The seventh-grader was first diagnosed with leukemia at age three. Since then, Fuller has overcome the illness three times. He underwent a bone marrow transplant in 2014, and today, Fuller is considered cancer-free.

During hospital stays and treatment as a young child, Fuller discovered cooking shows.

"Cooking became my passion when I was diagnosed with cancer," Fuller told Food Network during his episode of Chopped Junior.

"Even though I'm in remission, I'm still on steroids, which cause swelling. But every time I cook, I always feel great," said Fuller.

Fuller's love of cooking and cooking shows prompted him to submit himself to the Chopped Junior casting website.

"I put my mom's email and phone number and I just signed up, and I told her after I signed up," Fuller said.

After rounds of interviews, producers selected Fuller for the show. His episode, titled "Fry Fans," was recorded in New York City in October 2016. Fuller won the $10,000 prize, but had to keep the outcome secret until the show aired in April.

Back home, Fuller's win has made him somewhat of a celebrity.

"People coming up to him, wanting to shake his hand, thanking him, congratulating him, taking selfies," Scott Goldsmith said of interactions his son has had since the show aired.

Fuller plans to one day attend culinary school, and then open his own restaurant, Fuller's Kitchen. The slogan?

"Why be full, when you can be Fuller?"

Chopped Junior isn't Fuller's first time to draw attention for his cooking skills. Tuscaloosa restaurants Southern Ale House and Urban Cookhouse have hosted Fuller as a special guest in fundraisers for Fuller's Fund, which bears Fuller's name. The fund raises money for Children's of Alabama's Hope and Cope Program, as a way to help support families dealing with long-term illness.

Whether it's cooking on a national television show, in a restaurant, or for his parents and older sister, the reason Fuller cooks is always the same.

"I just like to make people happy with my food and stuff," he said.

And until the day Fuller's Kitchen is open for business, the young chef tries to get in as much practice as a 13-year-old boy can.

"I try to cook every night, when my mom will let me," Fuller continued.

Fuller Goldsmith's Grilled Corn Salad
4-5 ears of corn on the cob, cleaned
4 oz Blue Cheese
6 Slices of Bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1 Cup diced Green Onion

Wrap cleaned corn cobs in foil and warm grill to 400 degrees.
Grill corn for 45 minutes, turning a quarter of the way every 15 min.
Take off grill and let cool.

Cut corn off of the cob and combine with blue cheese, bacon and green onion.
Salt and pepper to taste. Best served chilled, so refrigerate for an hour before serving.

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