Jock Zonfrillo, the acclaimed chef and host of MasterChef Australia, has passed away suddenly at the age of 46. Before establishing his own restaurant in Australia, the Scottish chef worked at prestigious eateries around the globe.
The news of his demise was confirmed by broadcaster Network 10 on the same day the 2023 season of MasterChef was scheduled to launch. Zonfrillo’s wife, Lauren Fried, and their four children released a statement expressing their devastation.
“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,” the family said.
After police conducted a welfare check at a house in Melbourne in the early hours of Monday morning, Zonfrillo was found dead.
Victoria Police has stated that his death is not being treated as suspicious. Following the news of his sudden death, there has been an outpouring of grief from individuals in the culinary and entertainment world. Celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver, as well as a number of former MasterChef contestants, led the tributes.
Oliver, who was set to appear in the season opener, posted a photo on Instagram of himself with Zonfrillo and the other judges, Melissa Leong and Andy Allen, on set.
“I’m in total shock to wake up to the sudden death of [Jock].. we had the best time working together for this year’s MasterChef,” he wrote.
Ramsay wrote on Twitter: “Saddened by the devastating news… I truly enjoyed the time we spent together on MasterChef in Australia”.
After the sudden death of award-winning chef and MasterChef Australia host Jock Zonfrillo, broadcaster Network 10 paid tribute to him for inspiring a nation of home cooks with his charisma, passion, and wicked sense of humor. The 2023 season premiere of MasterChef, which was pre-recorded, will not air this week as planned.
Zonfrillo, who was born in Glasgow in 1976, started working in kitchens at the age of 12 and became one of the youngest-ever apprentices at The Turnberry Hotel in Scotland at 15. He later worked for Michelin-starred British chef Marco Pierre White at his Hyde Park Hotel.
However, Zonfrillo struggled with drug addiction in his teenage years, which he wrote about in his 2021 memoir, Last Shot.
He turned over a new leaf with a move to Australia in 2000 and opened several restaurants, including Adelaide’s award-winning Restaurant Orana in 2013. Zonfrillo’s career was not without controversy, as Orana closed in 2020 with debts of millions of dollars, and his memoir was criticized as inaccurate by former colleagues, including Marco Pierre White.