DENVER -- Every year hundreds of home cooks give Chef Gordon Ramsay and the title of MasterChef their best shot. In most cases, winning is what you want to do. In Gabriel Lewis' case, losing was the best thing that could've happened to him.
Two things bring Gabriel Lewis joy: food and his family.
“My family is my world, without them I wouldn’t be where I am,” MasterChef contestant Gabriel Lewis said. “My dad, had a stroke so he’s working intermittently but not full time, and my mother was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer.”
With his parents illnesses, the 19-year-old does all the family cooking and worked at fast food restaurants to make ends meet. Before MasterChef, college was never an option.
“It was never a thought,” Lewis said. Now, he's a student at Johnson and Wales University in Denver.
Never a thought, until his elimination from the show. Lewis was a contestant on the eighth season of Fox's MasterChef. It's a show that turns America's home cooks into professionals. Gabriel made it to the top 10, but was eliminated well before the top 5.
“My head kind of dropped,” Lewis said.
Seconds after his name was called to go home, the show's host Chef Gordon Ramsay said, “You’re not going back to be a fast food server.”
“I am personally going to send you to culinary school,” Ramsay said. “I’ll pay the tuition, full time. And I don’t want you worrying about mom and dad ’cause I’m taking care of that.”
“Disappointment turned to joy,” Lewis said.
"I’ve always had this kind of burden on me, for having to take care of my parents. That was something that kind of took a burden off my shoulders, to know that he was going to be helping them out, and send me to school so that I could further my dreams, but at the same time, not worry about what’s going on at home.”
Now college is a reality, and his dreams are possible. Johnson and Wales in Denver will be his home for the next couple of years. Lewis will have a future in food, thanks to the MasterChef competition and the man that saw something more.
“You’ve got the potential to be great,” Ramsay said.
Lewis said, “It definitely changed my life.”
Lewis was able to choose any culinary school and he fell in love with Johnson and Wales in Denver. Lewis was also offered a job by one of the judges on the show. He'll head to work in a restaurant in New Orleans as soon as he graduates form Johnson and Wales.
It's all by chance that Lewis was even a competitor on MasterChef. He has always been a fan of the show, but his sister was the person who actually saw the auditions. She found the auditions in an ad and told her brother about the opportunity.