Weeks after sending the aspiring chef a video wishing him well, Ramsay remembered him as “an incredibly talented home cook and even stronger young man”.
Watkins appeared in season six of the US competition in 2018. He died Monday (16 November) after a year-and-a-half long cancer battle.
The news was announced by his grandmother and uncle via their attorney.
Trent McCain, the attorney of Watkins’ grandmother and uncle, wrote: “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.”
Ramsay, a judge on the US version of the show, wrote on Twitter: “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.”
Fox, the network that airs the series in the US, wrote: “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’ parents died in a murder-suicide three years ago.
The young chef was diagnosed with angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma earlier this year, a rare soft tissue tumour that has only affected six people in the world. His grandmother set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for treatment.