MasterChef Junior fan favourite Ben Watkins dies, aged 14

Ben Watkins died of a rare form of cancer on Monday.
Ben Watkins died of a rare form of cancer on Monday.PHOTO: GORDONGRAM/ INSTAGRAM

LOS ANGELES • MasterChef Junior fan favourite Ben Watkins, 14, died of a rare form of cancer on Monday, three years after his parents were killed in a domestic violence incident.

The teenager, who appeared on Season 6 of the culinary cooking show when he was 11, was diagnosed with angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma days before his 13th birthday last year. It is an extremely rare soft-tissue tumour that occurs in a small number of children and young adults.

His uncle Anthony Edwards and grandmother Donna Edwards said in a statement on Monday that he had gone "home to be with his mother".

The statement, posted on a GoFundMe page, added: "After losing both his parents in September 2017, we have marvelled at Ben's strength, courage and love for life. He never, ever complained. Ben was and will always be the strongest person we know."

His parents died in a double tragedy in 2017, leaving him an orphan. His father had shot and killed his mother, then himself.

Watkins had just finished filming MasterChef Junior at the time. When the season aired the following year, viewers fell in love with the aspiring chef and raised US$30,000 (S$40,250) as a trust fund for him.

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey, who hosted MasterChef Junior, wrote on Instagram: "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."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 19, 2020, with the headline 'MasterChef Junior fan favourite Ben Watkins dies, aged 14'. Subscribe