MasterChef is one of the most inspirational cooking shows on the air right now. It takes people who have a love of cooking and pushes them to their limits, showcasing how talented home cooks can be.
Judges Gordon Ramsay, Aaron Sanchez, and Christina Tosi are around to offer critique, encouragement, and advice to contestants. It's a stark contrast to watching Ramsay scream at contestants on Hell's Kitchen.
This season is full of inspiring contestants, but none more than Gabriel Lewis, the 19-year-old fast-food worker from Oklahoma. Lewis grew up idolizing Ramsay and says he's never missed a season of Masterchef.
“I watch anything Gordon Ramsay,” he said. “I’ve been watching Masterchef since the first season.”
“It’s the first time I’ve ever been able to say I was starstruck,” Lewis said, of meeting his idol. “They’re almost glowing, so I was baffled thinking, ‘I’m 15 or 20 feet away from someone I’ve idolized since I was 10 or 11 years old. It’s remarkable for me to be able to cook for him — I was speechless.”
But it wasn't just a love of food that drove Lewis to compete on the show. When Gabriel was 11, his dad had a stroke.Then last year, his mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
"Last year my wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. They operated on her and got it all. About a month-and-a-half ago it game back. We didn't anticipate it coming back," Rodney Lewis, Gabriel's father, said. "My heart is blazing. Every time you [Gabriel] him do something it's a joy. (I feel) very prideful."
With the medical issues in his family, winning Masterchef was important to Gabriel. The winner gets $250,000 and a cookbook deal, and the teen was hoping he could help provide for his family.
Considered a front-runner to win the whole thing, Gabriel fell flat during an elimination challenge, which saw him go home.
But despite this, Gordon Ramsay decided Gabriel deserved more.