In the wake of the sudden passing of celebrity chef Jock Zonfrillo, close friends and notable chefs have attended a private gathering to bid farewell to their friend and colleague.
Among those in attendance were fellow celebrity chefs Matt Moran, Gordon Ramsay, Shannon Bennet, and George Calombaris who came together to reminisce and share anecdotes of their late friend over dinner and a few drinks.
Zonfrillo passed away on Sunday, April 30 at the age of 46.
The intimate get-together was held at Melbourne’s Di Stasio restaurant with Ramsey revealing that the “atmosphere was solemn”.
“Intense. And then we had a couple of glasses of wine to relax and we started to think about those incredible memories,” he told The Daily Mail.
“It was sombre because every time we went off-piste we came back to some of the magical moments that we’d witnessed and been party to.”
Moran explained that although Zonfrillo’s passing is “tragic” these moments “bring us all closer together”.
“I’ve got chef mates all around the world and we are a very small community and when something like that happens, as tragic as it is, it sort of brings us all closer together,” he said.
“It was all about the memories, which was great. It was more remembering and having a toast to him.
“There was a lot of talk about being young chefs and growing up in that environment.”
As the night drew to a close Bennett shared a photo of the foursome standing together while offering one more tribute to his fallen comrade.
“That hangover was for you mate @zonfrillo RIP brother,” he wrote.
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Fans were quick to offer their condolences while praising the group for their “fitting tribute” to Zonfrillo.
“This is the sadest and cutest thing I’ve ever witnessed. I’m so sorry for your loss especially cause I felt like I lost something too, I loved Jock. But this feels like a fitting send off for the Scottish soul he was. Sending you lots of love,” one person wrote.
“I bet the whiskey was flowing! The world is sad with you all, we miss him too x.”
“A fitting tribute for your good mate @zonfrillo ….may he RIP & know how much he’s missed & loved not only by people in the food industry but by people like me that got to know him through our screens on Masterchef,” another said.
Zonfrillo was only 13 years old when he began his culinary journey as a part-time dishwasher while still attending school. By the age of 15, he left formal education to pursue an apprenticeship at The Turnberry Hotel’s kitchens, and later honed his skills at the prestigious Arkle Restaurant in Chester. After working with the legendary Marco Pierre White, Zonfrillo made his way to Sydney’s Restaurant 41 in Australia for a year.
Zonfrillo’s impressive skills landed him the position of head chef at The Tresanton Hotel in Cornwall at the young age of 22. However, the call of the Australian culinary scene was too strong, and he returned to Australia in 2000 to take on the role of head chef at Restaurant 41. Zonfrillo’s culinary creativity and expertise continued to grow, leading him to become the head chef at Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant in South Australia in 2011, where he stayed for a year and a half.
In November 2013, Zonfrillo opened Restaurant Orana and Street ADL in Adelaide, although Street ADL was later replaced by Bistro Blackwood in September 2017. Zonfrillo’s talent earned him numerous accolades, including the title of Australia’s 2018 Restaurant of the Year for Restaurant Orana by Gourmet Traveller magazine, and Australia’s 2018 Hottest Chef in The Australian.
Zonfrillo continued to receive recognition for his culinary achievements, as Orana was named Australia’s 2019 Restaurant of the Year by The Good Food Guide and was awarded three chef hats in the 2019 and 2020 Chef Hat Awards.
In 2019, Zonfrillo joined Melissa Leong and Andy Allen as a judge for MasterChef Australia, bringing his wealth of experience and passion for the culinary arts to the popular cooking competition. Zonfrillo’s signature style and enthusiasm captivated audiences and showcased his exceptional talent as a chef.