MasterChef Australia’s poignant and permanent tribute to Jock Zonfrillo

A year on from his death, MasterChef Australia has unveiled a touching tribute to celebrity chef, Jock Zonfrillo. Source: Getty Images.

A year after the sudden death of Jock Zonfrillo, MasterChef Australia has unveiled a poignant tribute to the celebrity chef.

In a post shared to Instagram, the hit reality cooking show revealed their touching tribute: a wooden memorial bench installed outside their Melbourne studios.


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A brass plaque on the bench says: “In memory of Jock Zonfrillo. In life you should give more than you take.”

Fans expressed how much they missed Zonfrillo’s presence on the hit cooking show as well as his wonderful sense of humour.

“Always will be missed,” one wrote.

“I’m in Quebec Canada and watching seasons 14 and 15 right now feels surreal. Always great to hear him laughing when Andy eats something too spicy.”

“What a dapper gentleman. I miss him, I can’t begin to imagine how much his colleagues & family must miss him,” commented another.

“He was fabulous. Thinking of all of the MasterChef team & family today.”

“Can’t believe it’s been a year already.”

“Miss his humour, his laugh, his big personality.”

Zonfrillo passed away suddenly at the age of 46  on April 30, 2023. 

His death came as a huge shock to MasterChef viewers and the broader Australian community.

As one of the judges on the highly popular cooking show, Jock quickly rose to fame, capturing the hearts and minds of viewers across the nation, and earning him a well-deserved reputation as a fan favourite.

Born in Glasgow, Scotland, the celebrity chef had a humble beginning as a dishwasher while attending school. At 15 he left formal education and commenced an apprenticeship at The Turnberry Hotel before moving onto the Arkle Restaurant in Chester.

He spent some time under the tutelage of legendary Marco Pierre White before moving to Sydney to work at Restaurant 41 for a year.

On his return to the UK he established himself as a prodigious talent in the UK by becoming head chef at The Tresanton Hotel in Cornwall at just 22.

His culinary journey led him back to Australia in 2000, where he assumed the role of head chef at Restaurant 41.

Over the years, he ascended to the prestigious position of head chef at Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant in South Australia in 2011, before launching Restaurant Orana and Street ADL in 2013, later replaced by Bistro Blackwood in 2017.

Jock’s culinary prowess garnered widespread acclaim, with Restaurant Orana receiving numerous accolades, including being named Australia’s 2018 Restaurant of the Year by Gourmet Traveller magazine and Australia’s 2019 Restaurant of the Year by The Good Food Guide.

His culinary journey culminated in joining MasterChef Australia as a judge in 2019, where he, alongside Melissa Leong and Andy Allen, enthralled audiences with his expertise and passion for food.

Jock is remembered by his wife, Lauren and two children. In a recent Instagram post, Lauren shared a personal video update offering a glimpse into her journey of healing and remembrance.

“Next week it will be a year since we lost Jock. I have no idea where that time went,” she said.

“I really did have plans to get a lot more of his projects out but I think that somewhere between trying to find my feet as a solo parent – and just going through long periods of time where I found it really hard to look at videos and photos of Jock – the plan didn’t go to plan.”

Lauren added that their kids were thriving regardless of their new normal and even shared unseen videos of the chef to keep his memory alive.

As the one-year anniversary of Jock passing has come and gone, Lauren’s poignant message, his memorial bench and the beautiful messages from all his fans serve as a reminder of his far reaching impact and enduring legacy.


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