Chopped All-Stars! (Part 1)

26 Apr

To say my husband John is “into” cooking would be an understatement. Because although he has never pursued a career in food, cooking has been a life-long passion for him. (When most kids were watching cartoons, John was watching the Galloping Gourmet.)

So in John’s world, there’s pretty much nothing better than meeting a celebrity chef. Except maybe becoming friends with a celebrity chef. Or maybe… learning that his friend-slash-celebrity chef was selected to be on a cooking competition in which each chef was invited to compete for a charity, and this friend-slash-celebrity chef selected the Children’s Cancer Research Fund in memory of Julian.

And that’s exactly what happened!


Gavin and John on 7/22/11

As I described in a post from January 2012, we initially met Chef Gavin Kaysen after my dad (a friend of Gavin’s dad) visited Gavin’s restaurant in New York City. My dad introduced himself to Gavin, and ended up telling him Julian’s story… and also told Gavin about his son-in-law’s passion for cooking.

One thing lead to another, and a couple of months later, my dad and Gavin had planned John’s ultimate birthday gift — a day of cooking with Gavin, resulting in a dinner party for John and our closest friends… all in honor of Julian. That day of cooking together turned into an ongoing friendship, including unforgettable meals in Gavin’s restaurant, joyful celebrations with his family, and a trip France to cheer Gavin on as he coached the Bocuse d’Or USA team.

If you visit the videos page on Gavin’s website, you’ll see that he is no stranger to cooking competitions and TV appearances. In addition to representing the USA in the Bocuse d’Or, he has competed on the Food Network’s Next Iron Chef, and more.


Gavin in an interview segment on 4/14/13.

So it didn’t surprise us a bit when Gavin shared his secret with us… he would be competing in a televised cooking competition! John and I both had tears in our eyes when he asked us if it would be ok if he told Julian’s story, and then if he wins, $50,000 will be donated to the Children’s Cancer Research Fund in memory of Julian.

The televised competition isn’t just any cooking competition. It’s Chopped *All-Stars*, currently airing on the Food Network. There are four categories of four chefs each — The winner of each category will then go on to compete against each other in the final round on Sunday, May 5.


My family with Gavin’s parents on 4/14/13.

Gavin is in the appropriately-named “Mega Chefs” category, which aired on Sunday, April 14. We were thrilled to watch Gavin make his magic on the TV screen, and cook his way to victory! That means he is will be competing in the final round on May 5.

So if you have cable, please watch Chopped on the Food Network on Sunday May 5. You’ll see that the only thing bigger than Gavin’s talent is his heart.

This whole experience has been amazing, and reminds us once again that the tragedy of Julian’s death has not prevented us from feeling love and joy. We are so incredibly greatful for the gifts Julian has given us in his life as well as in his death, not the least of which is our friend Gavin Kaysen and the attention he is bringing to the Children’s Cancer Research Fund.


Posted by on April 26, 2013 in year 3


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6 responses to “Chopped All-Stars! (Part 1)

  1. Susanne Bonfe

    April 27, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Amazing story!

  2. Leanne (Trebilcock) Avila

    April 27, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    So very cool!

  3. Tom and Darlene Lund

    April 29, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    We are recharged…we watched it and thought he had lost…and now realize that was just the way the program goes…and now we are so excited that he is still going stron and onto the final in May…what a wonderful gift to Julian’s memory. Praises and blessing abound. Thanks Julian. dj and Tom

  4. Laurie Kuyath

    May 1, 2013 at 7:37 am

    Emily and John: It’s a wonderful story and you’re a wonderful writer. Your Dad in his wonderful, boundless energy, alerted me to the show, and I loved knowing the friendship and love behind it as I watched. I’ll plan to watch on Sunday. In your pain and loss, you have shared with us, and shown courage and joy in it’s midst. You have encouraged me. Thank you,

  5. Georgann Fuller

    May 1, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Emily, what a beautiful writer you are! What a blessing Gavin and his world have been to John and your whole family. I will be watching on Sunday. Love, Georgann

  6. Kathy Winchell

    May 3, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    I sent a note to you at your work site…but also decided to post something here. I do not know you…yet I know you! My husband and I are friends with Dave and Nancy Kaysen…and upon her suggestion, I decided to read about Julian. One thing led to another, and I ended up at your blog. And so I have gotten to walk parts of your journey with you…and those walks have given me a new insight on the subject of loss as it relates to the passing of a loved one. I used to have a sign in my elementary school classroom that said, “Attitude is Everything!’ Such is the message of your blog for me…to love and cherish…to remember with a smile…to embrace all that was because it still is! I am a new fan of yours…you are an incredible woman! Thank you for taking these walks with me, Thank you and Julian for adding some new tools to my “coping and surviving” toolbox….they will be amongst my most cherished!

    (PS…I love that Dr. Seuss quote. I am going to make some frames that contain that quote and give it to my children.)


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