When an allergic reaction sent young Gill's mother, Sherry, to the emergency room one evening, the waiting room TV was airing a show that sparked his imagination. "There I stood, feeling frozen and a little bit worried for my mom, when my eyes wandered up to the television. A cooking show called CHOPPED KIDS was on and kids were cooking! I watched with excitement and that is when my dream of being a chef on a kid's competitive cooking show was born"
No need to worry, Sherry is fine now, but soon after that fateful night in the ER, Gill and his family began a journey that lead to his 'dream come true' and Gilliland Corbett, Kid Chef, appeared on The Food Network's show called Kids BBQ Championship.
The process for getting there was lengthy and came with a couple of disappointments for Gill. Months passed before that first call came. "My first ever interview with a television producer would have gotten a C maybe, with a comment somewhere along the lines of, 'Needs Improvement' " said Gill when he didn't hear back from the agency. Never giving up on his dream, Gill took to the internet watching video's, reading books, grilling for friends and family, and continued to hone his skills. The unexpected questions from the producers during his first audition gave him purpose as he prepared himself for his next. One question posed to Gill during his first audition was about what influenced his cooking. "I realized that my hobby of farming was one of the biggest influences on my cooking. We are lucky enough to have a farm in Bostic. It's where my mom grew up and we call it Puzzle Creek Farm. I lived there from age 3 to 5 and began farming there. I helped plant seeds, grew my own herb garden, and fed chickens and ducks... learning where food comes from and how to care for animals has been the biggest influence on my cooking."
Fast forward to January, 2017. "While on my flight to Los Angeles, I seriously pinched myself, and it hurt! Was I really going to be on The Food Network? Had I actually been chosen as one of America's top kid chefs?" Filmed outside in 'cold for California' weather, Gill recalls "My station was one of the most beautiful I had ever cooked on. It was just like you see on TV, perfect."
When asked what he took away from his experience Gill tell us, "NEVER GIVE UP: you never give up on your dreams, and ALWAYS LOOK FOR OPPORTUNITIES TO GIVE BACK. I learned about The Food Network Charity #NOKIDHUNGRY. When I returned to North Carolina, I began working with a local charity,TABLE, by helping raise awareness about food insecurity, and that even though I was only 11, I could help make a difference." Gill also suggested that sharing food is an easy way to make friends. "Food is something everyone needs.... if you see someone eating alone, go over and introduce yourself and ask to sit with them."
To document his adventure and provide encouragement to other kids that may have a similar dream, Gill has written a book titled 'Gill on the Grill: Memoir of a TV kid chef'. In his book (found on Amazon.com) Gill also shares a few recipes, cooking tips, and his own secret ingredient!
In keeping with his philosophy of giving back, all proceeds from the sales of his book are donated to TABLE whose mission is 'feeding local hungry kids'.
Gill invites everyone to follow him on instagram @chefgilliland and subscribe to his youtube channel THEGLOBEANDYOU.
Gilliland is the son of Jay and Sherry Corbett and the grandson of Kenneth & Lessie Whelchel of Bostic. Gill's mother, Sherry, was born and raised here in Rutherford County. Gill is currently on every episode (in the intro) of KIDS BBQ Championship on Monday nights at 8, and his full episode aired June 19th, at 8pm on The Food Network.