Chopped All-Stars! (Part 2)

06 May

Last night was the finale of Chopped All-Stars on the Food Network. And — spoiler alert! — after a grueling duel of culinary skill and endurance, our friend-slash-celebrity chef Gavin Kaysen beat every single opponent… except one. 

Gavin-Kaysen_on Chopped

Gavin in action (source: Food Network)

So he didn’t win the grand prize of $50,000 that would have gone to the Children’s Cancer Research Fund (CCRF) in memory of Julian. But what he DID do is raise awareness for an amazing organization that my husband and I are so proud to support in every way we can. And, he shared Julian’s story with the world.

Words can’t even describe what an honor it was to watch Gavin on national television (NATIONAL TELEVISION!) talking about Julian and CCRF. He said things like, “”I’m here to tell the story of Julian Golden and the Children’s Cancer Research Fund.” And, “”I have to get that check for Julian!” It literally brought tears to my eyes every time I heard my son’s name.

Funny thing is, the competition was filmed over a year ago at the Food Network in Chelsea Market in New York. And, amazingly, the filming of the finale occurred on the exact day that John and I flew into New York to celebrate one of my best friend’s 40th birthday.


Food Network headquarters


When the show’s producers learned we’d be arriving in the city, they told us they might be able to have us visit the set. But of course, we had to just play it by ear because no one knew which competitors would be “chopped” until the chopping occurred.

So the producers had us on call, and then we got the green light — Gavin had made it to the final round of the finale!

So we made our way to Chelsea Market, and then were escorted to the Food Network studios. After signing some hardcore legal documents about keeping everything confidential, we were able to watch the final round as it happened live.


We watched the dessert round as it was happening live, via nine different camera angles.


If you watched the show last night, you know how that last round went. Gavin’s dessert was PERFECTION. His competitor, Scott Conant, was… not. In fact, it was a pretty big mess! We were positive Gavin had won it. The producers and crew were positive he had won it.

The producer took us into another room and wired us with microphones, because they were getting us ready to go out on set and surprise Gavin after his big win.

(I was more than a little freaked out about being on camera, but I was so excited for Gavin!)


John getting wired for sound

But then, there was a delay. And more delays. Then the producer told us that Scott’s family was getting wired for sound, too. (Huh?)

The minutes ticked by. Then an hour. The producer and crew were visibly different than they were initially… something was up. And then they told us the heartbreaking news: Gavin wasn’t going to win after all.

They still had us come out on set and surprise Gavin, and it was sooo exciting to be on a full-blown TV studio! We stood there in front of the judges, side-by-side with Gavin and Scott.


The host Ted Allen, me, my husband John, and judge Marcus Samuelsson

The judges asked us questions, and we chatted about CCRF and even talked about this blog. It was awesome.

When we were done, we got autographs and photos with the judges Marcus Samuelsson, Geoffrey Zakarian, Aarón Sánchez, and the host Ted Allen. Marcus Samulesson even walked us out of the building! It was pretty unbelievable to be making small talk with one of the U.S.’s most iconic celebrity chefs.

So in the end, the big money didn’t go Gavin’s way. But we could not have been more thrilled with the awareness that he created for the Children’s Cancer Research Fund. And, he brought Julian’s story to a national audience.

It was never about the money. It was only about making a difference… and Gavin was DEFINITELY a winner in every way that matters.

Did you watch the show? Did Gavin’s hard work inspire you? Please consider making a donation of your own. Visit and click “donate” — every donation makes a difference.

Posted by on May 6, 2013 in year 3


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6 responses to “Chopped All-Stars! (Part 2)

  1. Leanne (Trebilcock) Avila

    May 7, 2013 at 9:31 am

    What an amazing experience — to be at the live taping! And to meet all those chefs! I was watching the show and I thought for sure that Gavin had won as well. What a competitor and what a chef! I wish I had his knife skills, let alone the ability to pull together random ingredients and create such beautiful (and I’m sure tasty) dishes. And I can only imagine how emotional and touching it was to hear Gavin talk about Julian. I was getting a little teary myself 🙂 Thank you for sharing these stories with us!

  2. Deb Mathews

    May 7, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Couldn’t believe that Gavin didn’t win! A little undercooked farro was a much smaller flaw than that mess of a dessert Scott delivered! Maybe there should be a competition for qualified judges…..

  3. Georgann Fuller

    May 8, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Gavin did deserve to win! Scott’s dessert presentation was very amateurish. So pleased Gavin was able to talk about Julian and the Children’s Cancer Fund. Emily and John, what an exciting experience to be at the taping! When I want to have a secret kept, I know whom to call!!

  4. Jenni

    May 13, 2013 at 10:23 am

    Gavin did not win because of the blaring cronyism on the part of the judges. If that were any other chopped episode, Gavin would have won hands down.
    Scott repeatedly stated during the episode that he and the other judges ” had dinner all the time together with their families, and were great friends”. He obviously had told them previously how much he wanted to give to his charity and that not only most likely pulled on their heart strings; but more importantly, they wouldn’t want to face him at work after crushing his dream.
    Gavin was totally robbed and it was more than unfair, it was deplorable.

    • Emily Eaton

      May 13, 2013 at 10:47 am

      Jenni — I had the exact same thoughts! 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  5. Kim

    June 1, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Today my mom, sister, and I had the most wonderful lunch while visiting NYC. We ate at Cafe Boulud and met Gavin Kaysen. My mom had watched him on Chopped and wrote to him about her granddaughter, my daughter, Avery. My daughter at the age of 4 was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She is doing very well and we are 17 months into treatment with 13 more to go. When we heard about Gavin’s support for childhood cancer awareness and research, we knew we had to eat at his restaurant. He more than took care of us and shared a little about your family and Julian. I just wanted to say thank you for continuing Julian’s legacy and making awareness about Pediatric Cancer. My family has become very passionate about raising awareness!! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family!!
    God Bless,
    Kim Snuggs


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