Ben Watkins, known for gracing the MasterChef Junior stage with his skill and culinary knowledge, has died. He was 14.
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.
Watkins’ family has created a gofundme for his memorial fund. He is survived by his grandmother Donna Edwards and uncle Anthony Edwards.