Australia is in a state of mourning following the sudden death of MasterChef judge and celebrity chef Jock Zonfrillo at the age of 46.
As one of the judges on the highly popular cooking show, Zonfrillo quickly rose to become a household name, capturing the hearts and imaginations of viewers across the nation, and earning him a well-deserved reputation as a fan favourite.
Zonfrillo’s shock passing, on Sunday, April 30, was confirmed in a statement issued by his 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,” the statement read.
“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.”
At the age of 13, Zonfrillo commenced his foray into the culinary world by working part-time as a dishwasher while still attending school. He left formal education at the age of 15 to embark on an apprenticeship at The Turnberry Hotel’s kitchens and later honed his craft at the renowned Arkle Restaurant in Chester. Zonfrillo then had the opportunity to work under the tutelage of the legendary Marco Pierre White before venturing down under to work at Sydney’s Restaurant 41 for a year.
Upon returning to the UK, Zonfrillo’s talents did not go unnoticed as he was appointed head chef at The Tresanton Hotel in Cornwall at the young age of 22. However, the allure of the Australian culinary scene proved too strong, and he headed back to Australia in 2000 to take on the role of head chef at Restaurant 41. Zonfrillo’s expertise and culinary creativity continued to soar, earning him the title of head chef at Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant in South Australia in 2011, though he eventually departed after a year and a half.
In November of 2013, Zonfrillo launched both Restaurant Orana and Street ADL in Adelaide, though Street ADL would later be replaced by Bistro Blackwood in September of 2017. In August of 2017, Zonfrillo’s culinary prowess was lauded as Restaurant Orana was bestowed the title of Australia’s 2018 Restaurant of the Year by Gourmet Traveller magazine. That same year, Zonfrillo himself was crowned Australia’s 2018 Hottest Chef in The Australian.
Zonfrillo’s impressive culinary achievements continued to rack up in October of 2018, as Orana was named Australia’s 2019 Restaurant of the Year by The Good Food Guide, while also earning three chef hats in the 2019 and 2020 Chef Hat Awards.
In 2019, Zonfrillo was unveiled as one of the judges for the widely popular cooking competition, MasterChef Australia. Joining forces with culinary luminaries Melissa Leong and Andy Allen, Zonfrillo brought his wealth of experience and expertise to the table, captivating audiences with his signature flair and enthusiasm for the culinary arts.
Following his passing, fans, and colleagues came together to pay tribute to Zonfrillo, sharing stories of his immense talent, generosity, and impact on the culinary world.
It’s a very sad day. We’ve lost another dear friend. Jock was like a brother to me and we made each other laugh and cry. My heart goes out to his family. I am speechless Rest my friend xx pic.twitter.com/MFnhcllTsc
— Jimmy Barnes (@JimmyBarnes) May 1, 2023
We are absolutely heartbroken.
Jock Zonfrillo 1976-2023 pic.twitter.com/qMGnhCqDzQ
— Carrie and Tommy (@carrietommyshow) May 1, 2023
Our household gutted to hear of the passing of Jock Zonfrillo. Condolences to @masterchefau family and loved ones.
Made this dish for many family gatherings and it’s always a favourite…everyone asks for the recipe. Shall make it again and think of him. https://t.co/zMzcoXNGkL
— Wendy Harmer (@wendy_harmer) May 1, 2023
Just gutted to hear of the passing of Jock Zonfrillo. Too young and too talented to go. What a loss. My deepest condolences to his family, friends @fooderati and all @masterchefau This is just too too sad ????????????
— Magda Szubanski AO (@MagdaSzubanski) May 1, 2023
It will take a long time to accept the world is without Jock Zonfrillo. His vibrant personality, humour, zest for life & food injected such joy into MasterChef & enlivened Australian television. A devastating, immeasurable loss, beyond comprehension. Rest in peace #MasterChefAU pic.twitter.com/C4UWGItw7B
— Sahar Adatia (@sahar_adatia) May 1, 2023
Saddened by the devastating news of Jock Zonfrillo’s passing. I truly enjoyed the time we spent together on MasterChef in Australia. Sending all my love to Lauren and the family in this difficult time Gx
— Gordon Ramsay (@GordonRamsay) May 1, 2023
This one hits hard. We’re shocked and devastated by the sudden passing of our mate Jock Zonfrillo. A true legend and much loved member of the Mo family. We’ll miss that wicked sense of humour so much.
Our hearts go out to Jock’s family, friends, and fans all over the world. pic.twitter.com/AAFzJbnV7z
— Movember Australia (@MovemberAUS) May 1, 2023
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
Zonfrillo is survived by his wife Lauren and his four children