As the culinary world continues to mourn the loss of beloved MasterChef judge Jock Zonfrillo, Channel 10 has shut down rumours that the network is searching for his replacement just three weeks after his sudden passing.
A story originally published by the Daily Mail claimed the network already had casting conversations for their 16th season shortly after Zonfrillo’s death, even suggesting that former MasterChef stars Dan Churchill and Hayden Quinn, along with well-known TV personality Poh Ling Yeow were possible contenders for the next season.
However, in a statement to news.com.au, a spokesperson for the network said: “Casting for the next season of MasterChef Australia has not commenced. To suggest otherwise is completely false and misleading.”
View this post on Instagram
The treasured Scottish chef first appeared as a judge for the popular cooking show back in 2019, following the exit of longtime judges Matt Preston, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan.
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.
The shocking news of his death was announced on May 1, just mere hours before the new season of MasterChef was scheduled to air. Zonfrillo was only 46.
“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,” Zonfrillo’s family said in a statement.
“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.”
As a sign of respect, Channel 10 declared that MasterChef would be postponed for a week, with season 15’s new schedule set for May 7.
Since his passing, Zonfrillo has received an outpouring of heartbreaking tributes from both the public and fellow celebrity chefs.
Zonfrillo was laid to rest on May 13 during an intimate funeral attended by his family and fellow celebrity chefs George Calombaris, Manu Feildel, Shannon Bennett, and Colin Fassnidge.
Zonfrillo is survived by his wife Lauren Fried, and their four children, Eva, Sophie, Alfie, and Isla.