The season six MasterChef Junior contestant died Monday after a year-and-a-half long battle against cancer, Watkins’ relatives shared on social media via attorney Trent McCain. His passing comes less than five months after his angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma diagnosis and nearly three years after his parents died in a murder-suicide.
“After losing both his parents in September 2017, we have marveled at Ben’s strength, courage and love for life,” the aspiring chef’s grandmother and uncle wrote. “He never, ever complained. Ben was and will always be the strongest person we know.”
Watkins joined the 2018 season of MasterChef Junior when he was 11 years old. Throughout his time on the Gordon Ramsey-hosted show, Watkins created a range of dishes including fruit tarts and milkshakes. He, along with fellow contestant Gracie Howard, faced the chopping block during the season’s fifth episode titled “Recipe for Love.”
In addition to flaunting his culinary skills on television, the MasterChef Junior alum also cooked at his family’s now-shuttered restaurant, Big Ben’s Bodacious Barbecue, Baker & Deli in Indiana.
Angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma is an incredibly rare soft tissue tumor that has affected only six people, including the MasterChef Junior contestant. Back in August Watkins’ fellow competitors and members of the MasterChef family shared a video offering him messages of support and love.
On Tuesday Gordon Ramsey mourned the MasterChef Junior contestant 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,” the celebrity chef wrote on Twitter. “Sending all the love to Ben Watkins’ family with this terrible loss Gx.”
Fox also shared condolences in a statement:
“It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of Ben Watkins, a beloved member of the MasterChef Junior family. Ben overcame so much in his life with a remarkably positive attitude. 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.”
Watkins’ family has created a gofundme for his memorial fund. He is survived by his grandmother Donna Edwards and uncle Anthony Edwards.
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
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