Jock Zonfrillo, MasterChef Australia co-host and judge, has died at the age of 46.
It was reported that he was found by police who had attended a Brunswick address for a welfare check. His death is not being treated as suspicious and a report will be prepared for the coroner.
Born in Scotland in 1976, he began his career as a kitchen-hand at age 12, and commenced his apprenticeship at 15. By the time he was 22 he was a head chef.
After a successful career overseas, he was head chef at Sydney’s Restaurant 41 before opening Restaurant Orana and Street ADL in Adelaide in 2013.
In late 2019, he was appointed one of the new panel of judges on Network Ten‘s MasterChef Australia, alongside Melissa Leong and Andy Allen. The new line-up, replacing the series’ founding judges George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston, was first seen in air in 2020, also hosting Junior MasterChef Australia and Celebrity MasterChef Australia.
His other TV credits included The Cook Up With Adam Liaw, Have You Been Paying Attention?, Restaurant Revolution and Would I Lie To You?
In 2021 he published his memoir, Last Shot, which chronicled his rise in the hospitality industry and his battle with heroin addiction. He admitted that writing the book was a painful reminder of his past. “You drag up a lot of stuff you’re still ashamed of, and you’re vulnerable. It was an emotionally difficult time,” he told TV Week in a recent interview. “I’m one in a million when it comes to coming out the other side of that [addiction] and having some semblance of a life, let alone a successful one. It’s not normal and that’s the point. But the impact it’s had on people struggling with addiction has been incredible.”
The 2023 season of MasterChef Australia was due to debut tonight. Network Ten has postponed the show’s broadcast, replacing it with the free-to-air premiere of another reality series, The Bridge, that was due to air later in the week.
Jock Zonfrillo is survived by his wife Lauren Fried, their two children, and his two children from previous marriages.
A Statement From The Zonfrillo Family:
|“With completely shattered hearts and without knowing how we can possibly move through life without him, we are devastated to share that Jock passed away yesterday.
“So many words can describe him, so many stories can be told, but at this time we’re too overwhelmed to put them into words. For those who crossed his path, became his mate, or were lucky enough to be his family, keep this proud Scot in your hearts when you have your next whisky.
“We implore you to please let us grieve privately as we find a way to navigate through this and find space on the other side to celebrate our irreplaceable husband, father, brother, son and friend.”
A Statement From Network Ten and Endemol Shine Australia:
|“Network 10 and Endemol Shine Australia are deeply shocked and saddened at the sudden loss of Jock Zonfrillo, a beloved member of the MasterChef Australia family. Jock passed away in Melbourne yesterday.
“Jock was known to Australians as a chef, best-selling author, philanthropist and MasterChef judge but he will be best remembered as a loving father, husband, brother and son.
“Determined and talented and with plenty of grit, Jock was born in Glasgow to an Italian father and a Scottish mother, which meant his formative years were heavily influenced by two strong cultures and it was his obsession with food and desire for a new pushbike that at just 12 years old fuelled Jock to knock on kitchen doors looking for a job.
“Jock’s love and passion for food saw him become one of the youngest culinary students to do an apprenticeship at The Turnberry Hotel at just 15 years of age. From that point onwards there was no holding him back and by 17 he was working alongside Marco Pierre White at his eponymous Restaurant Marco Pierre White.
“Throughout his career he worked with world famous chefs and in restaurants all over the world. His talent saw him shine in the world’s most formidable kitchens and he opened Bistro Blackwood and Restaurant Orana in Adelaide after moving to Australia.
“Jock’s Restaurant Orana was recognised with the coveted distinction of three hats in both 2019 and 2020 and he also received global accolades, accepting the prestigious Basque Culinary World Prize in 2018.
“In 2019, Jock was named as a judge on MasterChef Australia in which he took great pride in challenging and coaching the contestants and of course inspiring a nation of home cooks.
“Jock’s charisma, wicked sense of humour, generosity, passion and love for food and his family cannot be measured. He will be greatly missed.”
A Statement From Beverley McGarvey, Executive Vice President, Paramount ANZ:
|“This is a terribly sad day for Jock’s family and friends, his Network 10 and Endemol Shine Australia colleagues and for MasterChef fans around Australia and the world.
“Jock was an extraordinary man. He was a wonderful colleague and friend, and we feel very privileged to have had him play such an important and impactful role in MasterChef. Despite all his notable professional milestones, nothing brought him more joy or happiness than his family. Our thoughts are with them at this very difficult time.”
A Statement From Peter Newman, Chief Executive Officer, Endemol Shine Australia:
|“We are shocked and extremely saddened by the news of Jock’s passing. Jock was an incredible talent, not just as a renowned chef, but as someone who could bring joy into the homes of people in Australia and around the world in his role as judge on MasterChef Australia.
“On set he was loved by the team and his passion for food and the show was infectious. He was also a brilliant champion for the contestants on MasterChef, always wanting the very best for them. He will be deeply missed by the entire MasterChef team. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”
Network 10 and Endemol Shine Australia are deeply shocked and saddened at the sudden loss of Jock Zonfrillo, a beloved member of the MasterChef Australia family. Jock passed away in Melbourne yesterday.
MasterChef Australia will not air this week. pic.twitter.com/cmtDuJr19P
— MasterChef Australia (@masterchefau) May 1, 2023
Source:Paramount ANZ, IMDB, SBS, The Age, Now To Love. TV Week, 29 April 2023.