Fuller Goldsmith, Top Chef Junior and Chopped Junior Star, Dies at 17
Beloved young chef and Food Network star Fuller Goldsmith died at the age of 17 this week after a long battle with leukemia. Goldsmith, who won Chopped Junior in 2017, was being treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) after the cancer returned for a fifth time in early 2021, People reports.
Fuller’s father, Scott Goldsmith, said in an interview with a local news outlet that he was shocked by the timing of the death of his son, whose condition deteriorated dramatically over the course of a day. “We knew what the outcome was going to be, but we definitely didn’t think it was going to be yesterday,” Goldsmith told Tuscaloosa News on Wednesday. “Monday he was up and moving about, building Legos, and watching all the football games. Yesterday morning he was running a fever, and struggling to breathe.”
Goldsmith shared that ultimately, Fuller died peacefully and without pain. “He was ready to go,” Goldsmith said. “He went peacefully in his sleep; no pain, no struggle, laying in his bed, and went to Heaven.”
Goldsmith was first diagnosed with ALL (also called acute lymphocytic leukemia) when he was three, and the cancer recurred throughout his life. He revealed in February that his cancer had returned for a fifth time. “Unfortunately the news regarding the tumor was not what I was hoping. The same leukemia is back,” Goldsmith wrote on Instagram. Goldsmith was planning to start a 12-day course of radiation within a couple weeks, “and then more chemo to make sure it’s gone once and for all. Round 5—I’m ready to fight!” he wrote.
“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,” a Food Network spokesperson told People. “Our hearts go out to Fuller’s family and his friends as they mourn the loss of such a phenomenal young man.” The production company behind Top Chef Junior, Magical Elves, shared a statement to Instagram mourning the young chef: “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 cooking world.”
Goldsmith took home the top prize on Chopped Junior four years ago, at age 14. He donated his $10,000 prize money from the competitive cooking show to the division of hematology and pediatric oncology at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, according to Today. Later that year, following his Chopped Junior victory, Goldsmith also appeared as a contestant on Top Chef Junior, but withdrew from the series to focus on his health, he shared at the time in an Instagram post.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a kind of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. Although rare overall, it is the most common type of cancer in children, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be about 5,690 new cases of ALL and 1,580 deaths in 2021.