‘MasterChef Junior’ contestant Ben Watkins, 14, dies of cancer
Aspiring American chef Ben Watkins, who competed in “MasterChef Junior,” has succumbed to a rare form of cancer. He was 14 years old.
His grandmother and uncle, Donna Edwards and Anthony Edwards, announced his death on his GoFundMe page dated Nov. 16. “Our Ben went home to be with his mother Monday afternoon after a year-and-a-half-long battle with cancer,” they said in a statement.
In 2018, Watkins joined season 6 of the cooking reality show after losing both his parents to a tragic murder-suicide in September 2017. He competed with 40 contestants aged 9 to 13 and came out in the top 18 of the show.
“MasterChef” host Gordon Ramsay mourned the loss of Watkins, stating on social media, “Ben you were an incredibly talented home cook and even stronger young man. Your young life had so many tough turns but you always persevered.”
We lost a Master of the @MasterChefJrFOX kitchen today. Ben you were an incredibly talented home cook and even stronger young man. Your young life had so many tough turns but you always persevered. Sending all the love to Ben Watkins’ family with this terrible loss Gx pic.twitter.com/RX81hP7lbw
— Gordon Ramsay (@GordonRamsay) November 17, 2020
The TV show described him as a “tremendous role model for chefs of all ages.”
He was a tremendous role model for chefs of all ages and will be dearly missed by everyone at EndemolShine North America and FOX Entertainment.
— MasterChef Junior (@MasterChefJrFOX) November 18, 2020
Watkins, who hails from Indiana, worked at his father’s barbecue restaurant, where he picked up some culinary skills. He said he got his baking skills from his mother—on “MasterChef Junior,” he was known for his flair for desserts.
The teen was diagnosed with angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma, a rare soft tissue tumor, when he was 13. He was undergoing treatment at a hospital in Chicago. Besides getting a culinary education, he had dreams of becoming an engineer. /ra