Fuller Goldsmith thinks he and his mom Melissa are in for a relaxing, poolside weekend just outside of Palm Springs, California, while his dad Scott has business meetings. What the 14-year-old doesn’t suspect, though, is that it’s all a ruse and less than a half-hour away awaits one of one of his culinary idols, Food Network star Guy Fieri.
The Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and Guy’s Grocery Games host has set up shop at the Stagecoach Festival where he curated barbecue from around the country for Guy’s Stagecoach Smokehouse — and it’s where EW has cooked up a surprise fan meeting for the celebrity chef and restaurateur and Goldsmith, who has competed on Universal Kids’ Top Chef Juniorand, like Fieri, also won a Food Network culinary competition: The 50-year-old took the Next Food Network Star title in 2006, while the teen emerged victorious on Chopped Junior in April 2017.
Goldsmith isn’t just any young, budding chef. He’s one who has beat cancer three times. He was first diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when he was just 3 years old, and after going in and out of remission, he endured three years of chemotherapy, spinal surgery, and a bone marrow transplant. Through it all, he watched people like Fieri and Bobby Flay from his bed, inspired by what they were doing in the kitchen. So he started cooking too. “It was therapy,” he says.
A few years later, Goldsmith was in full remission and one of the most promising young talents on the culinary scene, evident by his Chopped Junior win. And in a very selfless move, he made the decision to give away that entire $10,000 prize, donating it to Birmingham’s Children’s of Alabama hospital where he was also treated to help other pediatric patients and their families.
But today’s prize is his and his alone. As the temperatures in the California desert climb near 100 degrees, Goldsmith and his parents stick close to the shade of Guy’s Stagecoach Smokehouse, sampling the offerings, waiting — unbeknownst to him — to meet and cook with his idol.
Watch the video above to see the surprise unfold, Guy’s emotional and inspiring advice for the aspiring chef, and which celebrity crashes the party.