'MasterChef Australia' judge Jock Zonfrillo dies at 46

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A new season of the cooking competition has been postponed in the wake of the Scottish chef’s death.

By Brittany Vincent May 01, 2023 at 08:37 PM EDT

Jock Zonfrillo, the renowned Scottish chef, author, and MasterChef Australia judge, died Sunday in Melbourne at 46.

His family confirmed the news in a statement posted to Zonfrillo’s Instagram account, calling for fans to let the family grieve privately for their “irreplaceable husband, father, brother, son, and friend.” A cause of death was not undisclosed. 

“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,” the family’s statement said. “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.”

Jock Zonfrillo on ‘MasterChef Australia’

Jock Zonfrillo on ‘MasterChef Australia’

| Credit: Ten

Zonfrillo’s death came just as season 15 of MasterChef Australia was set to launch, and the show’s network and production company announced Monday that the premiere had been postponed.

“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,” the companies said in a statement. “Jock’s charisma, wicked sense of humour, generosity, passion and love for food and his family cannot be measured. He will be greatly missed. MasterChef Australia will not air this week.”

Born in Glasgow in 1976, Zonfrillo began his culinary journey as a dishwasher at the age of 13. He left school at 15, quickly becoming one of the Turnberry Hotel’s youngest apprentices ever. At 17 he began working for British chef Marco Pierre White, and by 22 he was head chef at Cornwall’s Hotel Tresanton.

Zonfrillo became the head chef at Sydney’s Forty One in 2000, and moved on to open several renowned restaurants in Adelaide, like Restaurant Orana and Nonna Mallozzi. His television career flourished in 2019 when he joined MasterChef Australia as a judge alongside Melissa Leong and Andy Allen, replacing the show’s original hosts.

His 2021 memoir Last Shot detailed his troubled past and journey to becoming a chef. 

Fellow celebrity chef Jamie Oliver paid tribute to Zonfrillo on Monday, recounting their time working together on MasterChef Australia.

“In total shock to hear of the sudden death of chef Jock Zonfrillo. Had the best time working with him for this year’s @MasterChefAU,” he wrote on social media. “Jock was very generous with his time and spirit in the show and will be so very missed. Sending heartfelt love and condolences to all of his family, friends and the MasterChef team and contestants.”

MasterChef star Gordon Ramsay also shared a heartfelt tribute to Zonfrillo. “I truly enjoyed the time we spent together on MasterChef in Australia,” he wrote. “Sending all my love to Lauren and the family in this difficult time.”

Zonfrillo is survived by his wife of six years, Lauren Fried, and his four children.

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