Fuller Goldsmith, Food Network star who competed on ‘Top Chef Junior,’ dead at 17

Fuller Goldsmith stands at one of three grills on his back porch in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 2017.
Fuller Goldsmith stands at one of three grills on his back porch in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 2017.
(Erin Nelson/AP)

Fuller Goldsmith knew his life’s arc well before he even began school. During hours waiting out chemotherapy treatments at an Alabama hospital, the teen grew bored watching the Disney Channel and cartoons, and turned instead to the Food Network, thus setting his path.

The young chef won the “Chopped Junior” competition, competed on “Top Chef Jr.,” and got to meet hero Guy Fieri and other food celebrities. He was written about in People, Entertainment Weekly and other publications. Still, Fuller was most fully at home in a kitchen.

“I knew I wanted to cook for the rest of my life before I went [to TV],” he said in a 2017 interview with the Tuscaloosa News, during his run on the show “Top Chef Jr.”


“I just like to cook. Simple as that.”

Though he’d fought back acute lymphoblastic leukemia three times since the age of 3, Fuller succumbed to the disease Tuesday, days short of his 18th birthday.

Fuller was found to have another tumor late last winter and had been undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments, but wasn’t responding as he had in the past.

“We knew what the outcome was going to be, but we definitely didn’t think it was going to be yesterday,” his father, Scott Goldsmith, said 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.

“He was ready to go. He went peacefully in his sleep, no pain, no struggle, laying in his bed, and went to Heaven.”

Family friend Cal Holt posted a notice of Fuller’s death Tuesday. His son Justin Holt owns and operates Southern Ale House in Tuscaloosa, where Fuller worked as an assistant to executive chef Brett Garner.

In high school, Fuller continued to watch cooking shows by the score, plowed through recipes in books and magazine, and picked the brains of local chefs. Fuller cooked as grandmothers used to do, his father said, never writing down recipes, just sipping and trying and measuring to suit his own tastes.

“He loved to cook for people, but he didn’t necessarily care about eating his stuff,” his father said. “But he got enjoyment out of seeing his food bringing people happiness.”

Fuller appeared on “Chopped Junior,” a kid’s cooking competition, in 2017 when he was 14 and went on to win his episode. He also appeared on the first season of the similar NBC-Universal show, “Top Chef Junior,” that same year.

Magical Elves, which produces “Top Chef Jr.” and other cooking shows, said Fuller was a cherished contestant.

“He was an incredible chef and the strongest kid we’ve ever met,” the production company said on Instagram. “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.”