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In memoriam: MasterChef Australia’s Jock Zonfrillo, a master of class

TV WEEK pays tribute...
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With a gentle nature, open-book qualities and an unparalleled passion for food, Jock Zonfrillo made connections all over the world. So it was with shock and sadness that the world learnt of his sudden passing in Melbourne on May 1. He was 46.

The announcement of his death was made by Network 10 and his family, with the launch of the 2023 season of MasterChef Australia – which was set to air that same day – postponed for a week.

The news of Jock’s passing was announced on May 1.

(Image: Supplied)

“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,” the statement 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.”

The chef and author, who is survived by his wife Lauren Fried and four children – Ava, Sophia, Alfie and Isla – has been remembered for his talent and kindness by family and friends, as well as by fans who have enjoyed him on MasterChef Australia alongside fellow judges Melissa Leong and Andy Allen.

MasterChef Australia pushed back their premiere date in respects to Jock.

(Image: Supplied)

Culinary icons Jamie Oliver (who is set to appear as a guest judge this season) and Gordon Ramsay offered their condolences, as did many TV personalities he crossed paths with, including musician Jimmy Barnes and actress Rebecca Gibney.

Born in Glasgow to a Scottish mother and Italian father, Jock’s career took him around the globe, working in restaurants from the age of 12. After making a permanent move to Australia in the early 2000s, he opened award-winning restaurants before joining MasterChef Australia in 2019, where he’s been a judge for four seasons, as well as Celebrity MasterChef and Junior MasterChef spin-offs.

In a recent interview with TV WEEK, Jock revealed his love for a show that not only changed his career but allowed him to be more present at home.

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“I never saw this coming,” he said of MasterChef.

“It’s been one of the greatest surprises of my career. It allowed me to have weekends and evenings off, which typically I worked for most of my career. I would work on my kids’ birthdays and anniversaries so others could celebrate theirs, so to celebrate with my own family at home has been incredibly rewarding. I’ve never looked at cooking as a job, and it’s the same with MasterChef. I simply love it and I’m so grateful for it.”

With a career spanning decades, Jock’s contribution to the culinary world will be remembered fondly. But more so will be his dedication to those he loved and inspired all over the world.

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