Jock Zonfrillo, the MasterChef Australia judge who died at age 46, was a member of the MasterChef Australia team.
His family confirmed the sudden death of the award-winning chef, sharing a Facebook statement. The cause of his death was not disclosed.
Victoria Police confirmed that the death is not being treated suspiciously.
Zonfrillo’s family wrote on Facebook: “With shattered heart and not knowing how to live without him, we’re devastated to announce that Jock died yesterday.
“So many stories could be told and so many words could describe him. But at this moment, we are too overwhelmed to express them. Keep this proud Scot close to your heart when you drink your next whisky, whether you crossed his path or became his friend.
We implore you, please, to let us grieve in private as we navigate this and find space to celebrate our irreplaceable father, husband, brother, son, and friend on the other side.
The announcement came just hours before MasterChef Australia 2023 was due to premiere on Monday, 1 May.
Channel 10 announced that the show will no longer be broadcasted this week. The company wrote on social media, “Network 10 & Endemol Shine Australia is deeply shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Jock Zonfrillo. A beloved member of MasterChef Australia’s family. Jock died in Melbourne yesterday. MasterChef Australia won’t be airing this week.”
Jamie Oliver, a British celebrity chef, shared a photo of himself with Zonfrillo, and the other members of the MasterChef Australia Team, on Instagram. He wrote: “I am in shock that I woke up to learn of Jock Zonfrillo’s sudden death.”
Oliver continued: “We had a great time working together on this year’s MasterChef. I can’t describe how much fun it was to be with him!”
Jock is going to be missed… I cannot believe I am writing this.
“Sending my heartfelt love and condolences, to his family and friends as well as his second family, the MasterChef team.
Gordon Ramsay, who also tweeted his tribute: “Saddened to hear of Jock’s tragic passing.” I enjoyed our time together on MasterChef Australia. “Sending all my love and support to Lauren, her family, and friends during this difficult time”.
Barry Zonfrillo was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1976. He is the son of an Italian father and Scottish mother. His passion for cooking led him to become, at just 15, one of the youngest apprentices to work in the Turnberry Hotel in Ayrshire.
At the age of 17, he began working for Michelin-starred Chef Marco Pierre White in his eponymous Restaurant at the Hyde Park Hotel.
In 2000, he opened his own restaurant in Australia called Orana.
In 2019, he served as a MasterChef Australia judge, along with food critic Melissa Leong.
Zonfrillo spoke publicly in the past about his struggle with drug addiction and being homeless during his youth.
He had a turbulent career. In 2002, he was fired as head chef for setting fire to the trousers of a teenager apprentice because he worked too slowly. Later, he filed for bankruptcy.
Marco Pierre White, his former boss, was also influenced by the stories in his 2021 autobiography, Last Shot. He said: “Almost all of what he wrote about me is false”.
Zonfrillo responded to accusations of embellishment with: “This is my story.” “I’ve lived it all, highs and lows. I stand behind it.”
Peter Newman, the chief executive of Endemol Shine, responded to the news of Zonfrillo’s death by saying: “On the set, he was loved and his passion for the show and food was infectious.”
“He was a champion of the contestants at MasterChef. He always wanted the best for them. The entire MasterChef staff will miss him. “Our thoughts are with the family during this difficult time.”
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Beverley Mcgarvey, executive vice president at Network 10’s parent Paramount ANZ said in a press release: “This is a terribly tragic day.
“Jock was a remarkable man. He was an amazing colleague and friend. We feel privileged that he played such a significant and impactful part in MasterChef.
We are thinking of them during this difficult time. “Our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time.”
Former MasterChef contestants such as Minoli de Silva, Laura Sharrad, and Reynold poernomo paid tribute.
Zonfrillo is survived by his third wife Lauren Fried, and four children.