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EXCLUSIVE: Jock Zonfrillo on why he ‘spilled his guts’ to his wife Lauren on their first date

The MasterChef judge on the moment he knew Lauren was The One.
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In this excerpt from his memoir, MasterChef judge Jock Zonfrillo shared the moment he met his wife Lauren and the incredible way they fell in love.

I was at this event in Sydney, doing the schmooze thing, shaking hands, when a woman came up and introduced herself to me.

She was very nice, chatty – we took a photo together, then she disappeared.

Didn’t think much of it at the time. Unbeknown to me, however, wheels had been set in motion.

She was friends with Lauren Fried, a businesswoman and panellist on the ABC show Gruen, who was in Europe on holiday recovering from a relationship gone bad.

The 45-year-old Scottish chef started dating Lauren in 2014

(Credit: Instagram)

Lauren got a message from her friend with a picture of me and a sales pitch: “Loz, I’ve found the perfect guy for you.

“He’s European, he’s got an accent, he’s a chef. He’s everything you want in a man. He’s even a champagne ambassador!”

The mutual friend was meant to introduce us when Lauren got back to Sydney, but it never happened.

Then one night Lauren was going through her phone deleting old photos, and it threw up the photo her friend had taken.

She followed me on Twitter.

I followed her back because I recognised her from Gruen, which I liked, so I thought she’d probably do some interesting stuff on Twitter and then… nothing.

Then one Saturday night that October, she found the Twitter notification that I’d followed her.

Neither of us used Twitter very much, so it was two pretty lucky coincidences that brought us there.

She was a bit tipsy, felt chatty and sent me a message. “Hey, my friend met you at an event a few months ago. She said you’re my kind of guy.”

This was around 11pm on a Saturday back in Adelaide and I was cleaning down the kitchen with my team.

I wrote her back, and we started a conversation that went on all night, until 8am basically… Before I signed off, I asked if I could call her later in the day.

We chatted and eventually I asked her if she wanted to have dinner with me.

They have two kids, including Alfie.

(Credit: Instagram)

“Don’t you live in Adelaide?”

“I’ll come to Sydney, that’s fine,” I said, and booked a flight.

I went up to Sydney on Tuesday, October 21, 2014 for a date that afternoon.

We planned to take a water taxi to a restaurant on the harbour for lunch, so we met in the bar of the waterfront hotel I was staying at.

When she walked through the door she smiled, and I just knew.

We were going to be a thing, and it was going to be wonderful.

It was as simple as that.

We just got along really well from the first words we ever exchanged.

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The food at the restaurant was sh*t, so we ended up ignoring the meal and just ordering a really nice bottle of champagne.

We shared our first kiss on the water as the boat took us back.

Shortly before meeting Loz, following a string of disastrous short-term relationships in Adelaide, after which I realised I was actually a fairly sh*t partner to women, I’d finally put myself in therapy to try and sort myself out.

So that night in The Rocks, I found myself spilling my guts, just telling her everything I didn’t want her to find out later on: the drugs, the failed marriages, my daughters Ava and Sofia, from previous marriages.

I basically dumped six months of concentrated relationship on her in a couple of hours.

The couple tied the knot on New Year’s Day 2017

(Credit: Instagram)

Looking back, I was maybe a bit too intense about the whole thing, but I somehow already knew that this was the real thing.

I was meant to go back to Adelaide the next day but pushed back my flight so the date could continue on the Wednesday.

Thursday morning I did that again, so I ended up staying for three days before I absolutely had to be back.

On Friday morning I was at the airport, just about to fly out, and I realised I really didn’t want to get on that plane without Loz.

So I called her from the airport, asked her to come to Adelaide and she got the last flight out that night.

How that love-at-first-sight thing works, I don’t know. I didn’t believe in the concept until it happened, but there was no denying it.

Jock and nine-month-old daughter Isla

(Credit: Instagram)

By that weekend, we were telling each other that we loved each other. It was completely unexpected. I’d sort of given up on ever finding somebody.

It’s already sort of difficult to build a life as a chef.

The hours, the drugs, the burnout – it led me to two divorces, and very few close friends, because there was just no time to nurture relationships…

Then, all of a sudden, there was Loz.

Edited extract from Last Shot by Jock Zonfrillo

Jock sadly passed away on April 30, 2023. The shock news of his passing was announced to Instagram and the cause remains unknown. His family and friends have asked for privacy in these difficult times.

“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,” it 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.”

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