Gordon Ramsay is infamously tough on his contestants in Hell’s Kitchen, but he showed a much kinder side when he donated $50,000 to MasterChef Junior contestant Ben Watkins, as the 14-year-old underwent treatment for cancer.
Watkins, who was 14, died Nov. 16 at Lurie Chidren’s Hospital of Chicago. He appeared on the cooking competition, where Ramsay sits on the judging panel, when he was 11 in the spring of 2018. About two years later, Watkins was diagnosed with angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma, a rare soft tissue tumor. He began chemotherapy treatment for tumors in his shoulder, spine and lungs on July 30, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Many of the teen’s former co-stars and Ramsay himself sent him a video full of well wishes in August. They also asked people to donate to a GoFundMe page that had been set up for Watkins and his family. (The aspiring restaurateur lived with his grandmother and uncle, because his parents died in an apparent murder-suicide in 2017.)
“If you can beat me in the [MasterChef Junior] kitchen, trust me, you can beat this,” Ramsay said. “God bless and lots of love, buddy.”
After Watkins’s death, Ramsay called him an “incredibly talented home cook and even stronger young man.”
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 tributes to Watkins continued to pour in Friday. More than $206,000 had been contributed to that fund. TMZ also reported Friday that MasterChef Junior is “trying to come up with a way to honor him.”
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