16-year-old ‘Chopped Junior’ winner declared cancer-free after 4 rounds of treatment

Rebecca R. Ammons

Fuller Goldsmith, a 16-year-old boy from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, who loves to cook, is now back in the kitchen after being declared cancer-free by his doctor.

Earlier last year, Fuller, who has always had a passion for cooking, finished his fourth treatment for cancer, but he always continued to pursue his dream. In 2017, Fuller became a favorite among Food Network fans when he won the network’s “Chopped Junior.”

Being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a blood and bone marrow cancer that affects white blood cells, would be difficult for anyone, but Fuller has been fighting the disease since he was a toddler.

“Fuller was originally diagnosed at age 3 with what was thought to be low risk leukemia (ALL), relapsed at age 7, underwent high-dose chemo for two years, relapsed at age 11, underwent a bone marrow transplant, and relapsed at age 15,” Fuller’s mother, Melissa Goldsmith, told TODAY Food.

In an indirect way, it was the original diagnosis that inspired Fuller to pursue the culinary arts.

“Fuller decided he wanted to be a chef around the age of 5,” Goldsmith explained. “He grew tired of watching cartoons with the long stays in the hospital and started watching Food Network.”

After “watching all of the chefs on television,” Fuller basically taught himself the techniques and various trick of the trade.

In between stints in the hospital, cooking became Fuller’s true passion. “We would leave the hospital and go straight to the grocery, and he would go home and practice his cooking skills,” said Goldsmith. “I say that cooking saved his life, because many days it gave him the motivation to get up and get moving, even when he felt horrible after chemo and radiation treatments.”

Related: A “Chopped Junior” winner was shocked to meet his idol, Guy Fieri, and he even made Ashton Kutcher a burrito!

It was during one of Fuller’s longer stays at home that he won the “Chopped Junior” championship.

“Fuller had his bone marrow transplant and was still on high-dose steroids to combat graft-versus-host disease (rejection of the transplant) when he filmed (the show),” said Goldsmith. “The competition energized him and gave him reason to keep fighting to get through the negative effects of the transplant.”

She added, “He truly loved the competition and never looked at it as stress.”

In late 2018, the family made the decision to travel to Seattle so Fuller could undergo experimental chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell immunotherapy. The treatment was a success and Fuller has now been in remission for over a year.

Now that he’s been home for awhile, Fuller has been focusing on continuing to build his brand through social media. Like many others spending more time at home, the young chef has been keeping busy by focusing on honing his cooking skills and has been sharing his gorgeous meal creations on Instagram. Specials include cavatelli with an egg yolk emulsion and a pan-seared steak with roasted potatoes and a red wine jus.

Fuller also has big plans for the future.

“Fuller is entering his junior year of high school,” said Goldsmith. “After that, he wants to attend culinary school and shadow under some of the chefs he has looked up to for years.”

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