Food Network Stars You Didn't Know Passed Away

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Food Network is the star-studded home to fantastic food shows and culinary competitions. In fact, the channel has been instrumental in the astronomical rise to stardom for many celebrity chefs.

Unfortunately, not every chef who has graced the screen of the Food Network is still with us. Some of these losses were more widely mourned, like that of the iconic French chef, Julia Child. Child's shows are mainstays on Food Network, and her death in 2004, at the age of 91, wasn't missed by many (via Today).

Similarly, few will have missed news of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain's sad demise in 2018. He was most famous for his gripping travel-food shows, and also wrote several cookbooks. Bourdain actually started his television career on Food Network, with the popular show, A Cook's Tour (via Eater), and his passing was met with a wave of grief and sadness around the world.

Sadly, the Food Network has lost more than just a handful of other stars through the years — and there's a good chance a few of them have escaped your attention. Read on to find out more about the Food Network stars you may not know passed away.

Anthony Sedlak

In 2012, Anthony Sedlak's star was on the rise when he died unexpectedly.

He had just filmed an appearance on Anna & Kristina's Grocery Bag for the Oprah Winfrey Network. Its host, Anna Wallner said later on Twitter that Sedlak had seemed "full of life." He had also shot what would be his last appearance, on Food Network Canada's You Gotta Eat Here! (via Vancouver Sun). Its host John Catucci was just one of many celebrities who paid tribute after Sedlak's passing

Sedlak's fame began on Food Network Canada. After winning the second season of Superstar Chef, he was offered his own show, The Main. This was a dream come true, as he had always talked about having his own show (via Vancouver Observer). He later released the 2011 bestseller, The Main: Recipes

Sadly, he died just a year later at age 29. Initial reports stated he collapsed from an undiagnosed medical condition (via National Post). However, in 2013, reports emerged saying he died of an intentional drug overdose (via CBC).

The young chef had been an industry gem. He even influenced those he had never met, like food writer Dan Clapson. In a tribute, Clapson wrote (via Food Network), "I'm sad to say I will now never meet the man who taught me how to cook a damn fine flank steak, but, rest assured, every time I cook this dish in my kitchen, I'll be thinking of him."

Fatima Ali

Fatima Ali had a promising career ahead of her before her untimely death. 

She moved from Pakistan to America at 18 to attend culinary school. After a stint as a sous chef at Café Centro, she became a contestant on Food Network's Chopped in 2012and appeared  as a contestant on Top Chef in 2017. Shortly after that filming, Ali announced she had been diagnosed with a rare type of cancer. Called Ewing sarcoma, it occurs in the bone or soft tissue (via Johns Hopkins). Refusing to let it slow her down, she continued to cook, posted updates on Instagram, and shared her story with Ellen DeGeneres.

In 2018, she penned an article in Bon Appetit's Healthyish about being given a year to live. She described her struggle and treatment, writing, "When we think we have all the time in the world to live, we forget to indulge in the experiences of living. When that choice is yanked away from us, that's when we scramble to feel."

Ali had dreamed of owning her own restaurant. She wrote about modifying it to "sketching a plan to eat my way through New York and the boroughs while I can."

After she died in 2019, several stars, including Padma Lakshmi, posted tributes to the young chef. Her family paid tribute by traveling the world on the food tour she never completed (via Today).

Floyd Cardoz

In March 2020, the world lost superstar chef, Floyd Cardoz. He was known for his marriage of regional and international flavors. And, for his pure love of food.

As he told Forbes India in one of his final interviews, "Being a miserable chef leads to miserable food, miserable staff, and a miserable restaurant."

He started his career in India, and studied in Switzerland. In New York, he opened an acclaimed restaurant, Tabla. As The New York Times said in his obituary, he was the first Indian chef to have such an influence over the New York restaurant scene.

He was a winner of Top Chef Masters, and on Food Network, Floyd regularly hosted Chef du Jour and hosted Fine Dining with Floyd Cardoz.

Before his passing, he shared pictures of a trip to India on Instagram. Among them, new venture, Bombay Sweet Shop, and appearance on Netflix's Ugly Delicious. Almost immediately after his return, he was admitted to hospital in New Jersey with a fever. Here, he succumbed to the coronavirus a few days later (via CNN).

Several celebrities reacted to his passing, including Food Network's Alex Guarnaschelli. She posted on Twitter, "I can't process it. A true gentleman in every sense and a great credit to the chef community. He will be sorely missed."

Clarissa Dickson Wright

Eccentric television chef Clarissa Dickson Wright was a culinary force to be reckoned with. She was also a controversial figure.

A former lawyer, Wright was once charged with hunting offenses and used to be an alcoholic. More importantly, she was a well-respected chef and food historian (via The Guardian). 

She was also one of the BBC's cheeky Two Fat Ladies. The duo's famous show also aired on Food Network in the US. The early hit was instrumental in increasing the popularity of the channel (via Los Angeles Times). In it, she and chef Jennifer Paterson toured the UK to cook in new locations — and they did it with Paterson on a Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle and Wright in the sidecar.

Wright was also well-known for her outspokenness. When asked if the title, Two Fat Ladies offended her, she clapped back, "I had problems with 'ladies' because it sounds like a public convenience. But which bit do you object to? Are you saying I'm thin?" (via Express).

She wrote several cookbooks, including the celebrated Two Fat Ladies Ride Again. In 2011, she published the acclaimed A History of English Food. The Independent called it a "richly informative book" and Express gave it four out of five stars.

Sadly, in March 2014, she passed away at the age of 66. According to BBC America, Wright had been sick for several months prior.

Kerry Simon

Kerry Simon was often called the 'Rock n' Roll Chef.' He cooked for rock stars and politicians. And some of his biggest fans included Alice Cooper and Joe Perry (via Rolling Stone). So, when he died in 2015, it wasn't just culinary celebrities who were crushed. 

After years as a personal chef to the stars, he eventually opened several restaurants of his own. Simon also appeared on Food Network's Iron Chef America and even judged an episode of the show.

But, in 2013, with his career booming, he was diagnosed with a terminal brain disease. Suddenly, he had to learn to manage multiple system atrophy or MSA. The disorder is a sporadic progressive neurological one, like Parkinson's (via National Organisation for Rare Disorders). 

In 2014, he opened up to Esquire about how hard it was to accept his MSA diagnosis but insisted it would not slow him down. He said he still checked up on his restaurant because he didn't want the quality to slip. He explained, "More than ever, I need to stay vigilant. I have to be there regardless of how I'm feeling."

After he died in 2015, the Las Vegas Sun paid tribute with an article about his life. In it, he was called the "first, and only, rock' n' roll chef."

Keith Floyd

Before Anthony Bourdain, there was the inimitable Keith Floyd. 

Initially a journalist, he developed an affinity for cooking in an unlikely place — the army. After opening his own restaurants, he hosted countless food shows. He also wrote over 20 books. So, it's no wonder he was 'the original modern celebrity chef' (via Irish Times). 

His show that started it all, Floyd on Fish, aired on the BBC, but many shows that followed that were also found on the Food Network UK.

In 2009, he was diagnosed with bowel cancer, but was determined to fight it. Before chemotherapy (and after several operations), he said, "I'm not thrilled about it, no, but what can I do? I'll get through it" (via Express).

Tragically, he died of a heart attack just a few hours after celebrating his partner's 65th birthday with an extravagant lunch, in 2009 (via Evening Standard).

Judson Todd Allen

Judson Todd Allen was a finalist on the eight season of Food Network Star in 2012. By 2018, he was close to the top and didn't show any signs of slowing down. 

With a degree in food science, Allen made healthy eating seem sustainable and fun. The Chicago chef called himself The Architect of Flavor, and built a career on teaching people that big flavor could help fight unhealthy cravings.

He was a chef to the stars, cooking for the likes of Steve Harvey and Jamie Foxx. In Allen's popular book, The Spice Diet, he shared a diet plan that helped Harvey lose weight and get camera-ready. The book is renowned for using principles of food science to break food addiction.

In an interview with Illinois Alumni, he shared his personal journey with food addiction, saying, "I was always the biggest kid in school. As a kid, one of the main things people bully you about is weight. And I've had to deal with that for a large part of my life." In a video for Kids Recipe Challenge, Allen said that he championed healthy food for kids. He added that it was especially important to him since it was a personal issue.

Allen's dedication to healthy eating made his untimely passing even more tragic. In 2018, at just 36 years old, he died at a Chicago hospital. The Chicago Tribune reported the cause of his death was an apparent heart attack. 

He also owned his own catering company known as Healthy Infused Cuisine, and launched a popular hot sauce. Following his death, his family halted sales of the sauce (via Instagram).

Ken Kostick

Ken Kostick was best known for hosting a food show with an innovative format. What's for Dinner? (was famous for its sitcom-like appeal and Kostick's comedic banter with co-host Mary Jo Eustace and had more than one spin-off on TV and radio, featuring the same stars. After his death, Eustace told CBC News Network, "I just want everybody to know he was a fantastic person on TV and off."

The Gemini Award nominee wrote several cookbooks, including one called The $10 Gourmet: Restaurant-Quality Meals That Won't Break the Budget, which included recipes as well as pantry-stocking tips. His show Ken Kostick & Company was celebrated for its guest chefs and musical sidekicks. It was also one of the first shows for Food Network Canada. 

In 2011, tragedy struck when Kostick was hit with acute pancreatitis. As he recovered at home after treatment, he endured a fatal complication. The Canadian chef's death was announced by his business team in April 2011 (via National Post). 

Jessica Vogel

Before Jessica Vogel was on television, she worked in several renowned restaurants.

Vogel started her career working at Kevin's Thyme. She was then a pastry chef at Christine Nunn's Picnic on the Square. A stint as executive chef at Black Rebel Burger followed.

Vogel's first television appearance was on Hell's Kitchen. After she placed 12th on that show (out of 20 contestants), it was a while before Vogel was on reality TV again. In 2016 she became a contestant on Food Network, when she joined the chocolate-themed episode of Cutthroat Kitchen's season 11, hosted by Alton Brown (via USA Today).

Her career looked promising. However, in her personal life, she was struggling, and Vogel passed away at just 34 years old. 

In her obituary, Vogel's family revealed she had alcohol and drug issues. Even though she had recently been in rehabilitation and was dedicated to changed her life, the years of abuse had taken a toll on her body. She was diagnosed with colitis, which causes inflammation of the colon.

According to her fiancé, her "heart gave out" during her colitis treatment (via US Weekly). Before tragedy struck, the two were planning to open a restaurant together.

Her former employer, chef Nunn, spoke fondly of Vogel after her death. She said, "She was really a talented chef who never reached her potential. It's a shame." (via

Cristie Codd

Cristie Codd was just getting started, when a tragedy cut her promising career short. The chef's culinary journey started at home in the South, cooking Cajun cuisine with her father. Codd then attended college in Germany, where she picked up a love of European cuisine. She had also dreamed of opening her own café (via Food Network).

In 2012, she was swept into the limelight while participating in season 8 of Food Network Star, known then as Cristie Schoen — even though she was the first chef to leave that season. In an interview after her appearance, she spoke about life after the show. She had catered the film Ender's Game and was pitching two food shows. She also spoke about her passion for healthy food, saying, "Healthy does not mean boring and bland."

Sadly, she and her husband, Joseph Codd, met an untimely death in 2015. The couple was initially thought to be missing from the North Carolina home. However, the star, who was pregnant at the time, had been murdered, along with her husband. It seemed as if it had been a home invasion gone wrong. Soon after their bodies were found dismembered and burned on their property, a suspect was arrested. However, it took years for courts to convict him. 

In 2017, handyman Robert Jason Owens (who worked as a contractor for the Codds) finally admitted to the murder. He also admitted to staging the home invasion scene. Owens said he had accidentally run the couple over, and claimed to have burned their bodies only because he had been afraid of receiving the death penalty (via CBS News). 

Her friend Michael Mendez told CBS News that Cristie had been "a firecracker" and called her "A bright light."

Carl Ruiz

Jovial, full of life and a stellar cook — that's how most would describe Carl Ruiz.

The New Jersey native worked in many restaurant kitchens until he and ex-wife Marie eventually opened a restaurant. Called Marie's Italian Specialtiesit was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and DivesThe rest, as they say, is history. 

Ruiz was soon a regular on Food NetworkHis gigs on Food Network included appearances on Guy's Grocery Games and Guy's Ranch Kitchen. He even had stints as a judge on many of the network's cooking competition shows.

Sadly, in 2019, he was visiting friends when he suddenly passed away in his sleep. The New York Times reported he had died at 44 of undetermined causes. A month later, USA Today reported that the cause of death had been atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, which results from restricted blood flow due to clogged arteries.

Co-star Guy Fieri posted on Instagram after his death, "I have no words to describe what a great friend he was to me and my family. His ability to make me laugh and smile under any circumstances was only outshined by his talent as a chef."

Kerry Vincent

Originally from Western Australia, famed cake designer Kerry Vincent moved to the U.S. decades ago, settling in Tulsa, Oklahoma (via Today). It's here where she carved out a prolific career, which included earning more than 100 blue ribbons and induction into both the International Cake Exploration Societé Hall of Fame and Dessert Professional Hall of Fame. Along the way, she became one of the most influential bakers of her generation. Unfortunately, Vincent's life and career came to an end in January 2021 when she passed away from an undisclosed illness.

The news was announced on Facebook by the Oklahoma State Sugar Arts Show, an event she co-founded. "It is with great sadness that I have to report the passing of Kerry Vincent earlier this evening," the post read. "Being a very private person when it came to all things not cake, she did not want to put her illness out there to the public. Unfortunately her fight has come to an end but she will no longer have any pain. She will be sorely missed by all who she has touched through the Sugar Arts as will as personally."

Vincent made the jump to television in 2006 when she joined Food Network as a judge on "Food Network Challenge" (via IMDb). She would go on to appear in 75 episodes over the next six years. Following that run, Vincent continued making sporadic cameos on Food Network shows, including "Save My Bakery" and, most recently, 2018's "Holiday Gingerbread Showdown."

Jennifer Paterson

As the other half of the "Two Fat Ladies," Jennifer Paterson was charged with driving the motorcycle that led her and fellow chef Clarissa Dickson Wright on their culinary exploits across the U.K. (via Los Angeles Times). The duo's journey and the popular cooking show that broadcast their exploits came to an abrupt end when Paterson died of cancer in 1999 at the age of 71 (via The Guardian).

Patterson's and Wright's irreverence and oversized personalities quickly won over legions of fans who were accustomed only to the serious cooking shows of the time. High ratings in hand, the BBC sold the show's airing rights to several foreign countries, including the United States. In 1997, "Two Fat Ladies" made its American debut on the Food Network.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the show's global audience would grow to 70 million before Paterson's death from lung cancer. Paterson was known for, amongst many other things, smoking cigarettes on camera. It was a practice she had no intention of stopping, despite some backlash. "Thousands die from smoking each year, but knowing this I continue to smoke myself," she once said. "It is my informed decision." She was also reportedly contempuous of many healthy eating trends, including vegetarianism, as per The Guardian. Yet just a year before her death, Paterson claimed to be in good health, going as far as giving her secret recipe for a long life: "Lots of meat, drink and cigarettes and not giving in to things."

Fuller Goldsmith

While arguably all deaths are tragic, the loss of a child is particularly heart-wrenching. Such was the case when culinary prodigy Fuller Smith died in October 2021 after a prolonged fight with leukemia, as per NPR. He was just days shy of his 18th birthday.

Goldsmith began cooking at the ripe old age of 4. The Alabama native was inspired by his father, who would whip up batches of chicken wings and other barbecue goodies for University of Alabama football game tailgate parties (via Tuscaloosa). The younger Goldsmith's skills landed him a spot on Food Network's "Chopped Junior," which he won. He donated his $10,000 reward to the Children's of Alabama hospital, where he had received treatment since being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 3. Cooking not only earned Fuller with fame and recognition, but it provided a much needed escape from his illness and medical treatments. "When I was sick, cooking was the only thing that got me up," he told Tuscaloose magazine in 2017.

Goldsmith didn't rest on his laurels following the "Chopped" victory. He returned to television on season two of "Top Chef Junior." The show's production company, Magical Elves, announced Goldsmith's passing. "He was an incredible chef and the strongest kid we've ever met," the company wrote in an Instagram post. "From the minute he was introduced to us, we knew he would make an impact on everyone around him and be a positive force in cooking world."

Michael Chiarello

With so many chefs and restaurants in the world, it's not easy making your mark in the culinary industry. Competition can be fierce, and standing out can feel like an impossible feat. However, one celebrated chef who undeniably managed to shine through the often over-flooded market was Michael Chiarello — who passed away suddenly in October of 2023.

Chiarello, who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, began his career with the opening of his Miami-based starter restaurant, Toby's, when he was 22. He then opened the Tra Vigne Restaurant in Napa Valley, California, wrote a few cookbooks, and started his own line of authentic olive oils, drawing from his Italian roots. But perhaps the most principal step on the chef's path to prominence came from his notable Food Network appearances. "Easy Entertaining With Michael Chiarrello" debuted in 2003, bringing its universally popular host a Daytime Emmy. He also appeared in "Restaurant: Impossible," "Chopped," and "The Best Thing I Ever Ate," among others.

Tragically, Chiarrello's long list of culinary contributions were cut short in October at the Queen of the Valley Medical Center in California. The cause of death was officially reported as anaphylaxis stemming from an allergic reaction, though what the allergen actually was has yet to be shared with the public — if it ever will be at all. He was 61 years old.

Taylor Hurt

If you're an avid "Chopped" watcher, you may remember a specific episode from 2021 sticking out for one very specific purpose — it was dedicated to one of the contestants. Before the credits rolled, it was shared with viewers that one of the talented chefs featured in the episode had died between the filming and air date. Her name was Taylor Hurt.

A small-town Mississippi native, Taylor was born in August 1990. She picked up and moved to New York early in her culinary career to pursue cooking and develop her talents as a chef, where she obtained a position at LaRina Pastificio and Vino Restaurant. By all accounts, her career was budding — one of her recipes was featured in a cookbook titled "Be Nourished," and she earned the opportunity to compete for the title of "Chopped" champion. Neither of these are small accomplishments — and spoke to a probable highly successful career in the culinary industry. Unfortunately, we will be left to wonder forever where Taylor's blossoming career might have gone. On November 29, 2020, Taylor Hurt died at the age of 30. No cause of death was ever publicly revealed.

Aaron Grissom

The state of Washington has been facing a baffling increase in auto-related deaths, with the total number of fatalities on the road in 2022 coming in at a whopping 18% higher than in 2019, reports Washington State Standard. Tragically, one of these fatal traffic incidents actually claimed the life of a young Food Network and "Top Chef" star — leaving the culinary industry in shock.

Aaron Grissom was a promising young chef who first showed his face on the Food Network via Guy Fieri's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" in 2013. The episode, titled "Tacos and Tots," featured Aaron in his home state of Washington serving up some mouth-watering stuffed tater tots and unique, flavorful tacos. The following year, in 2014, Grissom would go on to compete on Bravo's "Top Chef" season 12 — and though his appearance on the successful cooking reality show was brief, Grissom clearly made an impact. When the traffic accident in Washington in 2020 claimed the 34-year-old's life, the news spread far and wide. "Talented and charismatic," described a saddened unnamed user on Instagram. "Rest In Peace Chef!"

Alexander Butch Lupinetti

In 2006, during the first season of "Throwdown with Bobby Flay," viewers were treated to a particularly exciting episode. This particular episode was special because it ended not with yet another win for Flay ... but a win for the decorated contestant facing him. This competitor was Alexander "Butch" Lupinetti, a barbecue connoisseur from Mount Laurel, New Jersey.

This was hardly Lupinetti's only recognition for his succulent meats. Throughout his career, the chef accumulated more than 600 awards during national food competitions, and one of his pork butt recipes is featured in Food Network's online database even today. However, just four short years after overtaking Bobby Flay on national T.V., "Butch" Lupinetti passed away after an unexpected and devastating heart attack took the meat master's life while he was supposed to be enjoying a carefree vacation in Italy. The chef left behind a wife, two kids, and a lot of devastated fans who still mourn his skills on the grill to this day. He was 69.

Walter Royal

If you've ever been to Raleigh, North Carolina, you're likely familiar with the Angus Barn — an award-winning steakhouse that has been serving up tenderloin, farm-fresh vegetables, and smooth wines to its guests since 1960. In the 1990s, a new executive chef would swoop in and put the modest restaurant on the map, not only due to his development of a menu full of delicious offerings but also by competing — and winning — on Food Network's "Iron Chef America."

Walter Royal's Food Network win (which he obtained in the dessert round through the genius creation of a chocolate souffle made from an ostrich egg) was far from being his only recognition as a chef. He was the first African American to earn the Restaurant Guild's Five Star Chef of the Year in 1997, named one of the Top Five Chefs in the Southeast, earned a mention in Southern Living Magazine, and obtained additional features on the Food Network, among others. However, in May 2023, Royal passed away at the age of 67. No reason or cause of death was given, but the Southern public — especially his team at the Angus Barn — fiercely mourned the loss of their talented patriarch.