Related: A PEOPLE Writer Is Fooled by MasterChef Junior Contestants: 'I Couldn't Believe Kids Cooked That Meal'
When Watkins appeared as one of the young contestants on MasterChef Junior, he wowed judges with his culinary skills and finished in the top 18. His love for cooking stems from his late parents, who owned a barbecue restaurant — and because the science behind baking coincides with his aspirations of becoming an engineer one day. "It's more reliable than being a chef," Watkins told the Chicago Tribune in 2017.
"Despite all of Ben’s trials and tribulations, he remains positive," the family said in the updated GoFundMe, "and looks forward to getting back in the kitchen and pursuing his dream to become an Engineer."
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