The kitchen is Fuller Goldsmith’s happy place. It’s one of the few places where he doesn’t think about the L-word – leukemia. He finds solace in the chopping and stirring, the frying and sautèeing; he is, by all accounts a true chef and a true survivor.
So when the Food Network selected Fuller to be on the popular show “Chopped Junior,” it was no surprise the 13-year-old from Tuscaloosa went on the win the show’s $10,000 grand prize. Fuller defeated three competitors to earn the title of “Chopped Junior” Champion, creating dishes from mystery ingredients in three, 30-minute rounds.
Fresh off his victory, Fuller donated a portion of his winnings to Children’s of Alabama, where he received treatment at the Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
“It means a lot to me to donate to Children’s,” Fuller said during a check presentation ceremony at Children’s in May 2017. “Because they pretty much gave me my life, and I just want to give back now.”
Fuller was diagnosed with leukemia in 2007 – at the age of 3 – and underwent three years of chemotherapy, which led to remission. Another three years of chemotherapy followed, then spinal surgery to correct problems from medication. In 2014, Fuller received a bone marrow transplant that delivered positive results. He now takes high-dose steroids to lessen side effects.
Despite the hurdles Fuller has faced, they haven’t dampened his spirit. He hopes to one day own his own restaurant with the motto “Why get full, when you can get Fuller?”