Ben Watkins was born in 2007 to Mike Watkins and Leila Edwards. Ben Watkins came from just outside of Chicago and honed his fledgling culinary skills by working at his father Michael’s barbecue restaurant.
In his father’s restaurant, Ben would operate the cash register and take orders, and also sold his own homemade cookies, brownies, cinnamon rolls, and banana bread. He credited his baking skills to his mother and in his words, he said: “My mom taught me everything she knew. Or I just picked it up by watching her.”
Ben came from tragic circumstances, having lost his mother and father in a murder-suicide.
Ben Watkins Career
At the age of 11, Ben featured on the Fox show MasterChef Junior, where his eye for a dessert combined with his tragic back story made him a viewers’ favorite.
His first appearance saw him compete as one of 40 contestants, aged between nine and 13, for 24 spots on the show and a chance to win the $100,000 (£75,224) prize. He bagged the final white apron of the night, by impressing the judges with a peach cobbler with whipped cream and caramel sauce. He ultimately placed in the top 18 on the show.
Ben Watkins Family
Ben’s mother, Leila Edwards, was killed by Mike Watkins, Ben’s father. He shot her and later went on to kill himself, in 2007. Ben’s grandmother and uncle then became his legal guardians.
Ben Watkins Death
Not long after Ben’s 13thbirthday, he was diagnosed with angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma – a rare soft tissue tumor.
In July 2020, he underwent chemotherapy treatment for tumors in his lung, spine, and shoulder.
Ben Watkins passed away on November 16, 2020, at the age of 14 and following his death, a statement on the MasterChef Instagram page said Watkins had a “remarkably positive attitude” and was a “tremendous role model for chefs of all ages”.