Home Entertainment Gordon Ramsay leads tributes to MasterChef Australia star Jock Zonfrillo who died aged 46 

Gordon Ramsay leads tributes to MasterChef Australia star Jock Zonfrillo who died aged 46 

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Gordon Ramsay today led the tributes to fellow British-born chef and MasterChef Australia judge Jock Zonfrillo, who has died suddenly aged 46.

The Scottish-Australian restaurateur was found dead by police in Melbourne in the early hours of Monday morning. His cause of death is yet to be revealed, but detectives say it is not suspicious.

He is survived by his third wife, Lauren Fried, and his four children: Ava and Sophia, from his first two marriages, and Alfie and Isla, with Ms Fried.

Mr Ramsay tweeted today: ‘Saddened by the devastating news of Jock Zonfrillo’s passing. I truly enjoyed the time we spent together on MasterChef in Australia. Sending all my love to Lauren and the family in this difficult time Gx’.

The chef, who started working in kitchen aged 13 and later battled heroin addiction and crippling anxiety, trained under Marco Pierre White and moved to Australia in 2000. He famously carried worry beads to help him cope with ‘stress’.

After ups and downs including setting a chef on fire for working too slowly and bankruptcy before building up a number of more successful restaurants in Adelaide, Jock became a huge star Down Under.

He became a host of the popular Channel 10 cooking show in 2019 alongside Andy Allen and Melissa Leong, and also Junior Masterchef Australia in 2020.  His death comes as MasterChef’s fifteenth season, featuring Jamie Oliver as a guest judge, was due to premiere in Australia on Monday night. The show will not be airing this week in light of Zonfrillo’s passing.

MasterChef Australia judge Jock Zonfrillo died in Melbourne on Sunday at the age of 46, his family has confirmed

MasterChef Australia judge Jock Zonfrillo died in Melbourne on Sunday at the age of 46, his family has confirmed 

Zonfrillo is survived by his third wife, Lauren Fried, and his four children: Ava and Sophia, from his first two marriages, and Alfie and Isla, with Fried. (Zonfrillo, Fried and their two children are seen here in a recent family photo)

Zonfrillo is survived by his third wife, Lauren Fried, and his four children: Ava and Sophia, from his first two marriages, and Alfie and Isla, with Fried. (Zonfrillo, Fried and their two children are seen here in a recent family photo)

'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,' his family said

‘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,’ his family said

Gordon Ramsay led the tributes today

Gordon Ramsay led the tributes today

No cause of death has been disclosed, but police say his death is not being treated as suspicious.

A Victoria Police spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia they found Zonfrillo’s body at about 2am on Monday, after they were called to an address on Lygon Street in Carlton for a welfare check. A report will be prepared for the coroner.

‘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,’ his family said in a statement on Monday.

‘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.’

They continued: ‘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.’

His death comes as MasterChef's fifteenth season was due to premiere on Monday. The show will not be airing this week in light of Zonfrillo's passing. (Pictured: Zonfrillo with fellow MasterChef judges Andy Allen and Melissa Leong at the AACTA Awards on December 7)

His death comes as MasterChef’s fifteenth season was due to premiere on Monday. The show will not be airing this week in light of Zonfrillo’s passing. (Pictured: Zonfrillo with fellow MasterChef judges Andy Allen and Melissa Leong at the AACTA Awards on December 7)

Zonfrillo is seen kissing wife Lauren Fried on March 25, 2022

Zonfrillo and Fried are pictured at a David Jones event in Melbourne on October 12, 2022

Zonfrillo is seen on the left kissing wife Lauren Fried on March 25, 2022. The couple is pictured right at a David Jones event in Melbourne on October 12, 2022

Zonfrillo's colleagues on MasterChef did not seem to know he had died as the publicity machine for the new season was in motion as late as 11:30am on Monday, when Melissa Leong posted a countdown clock for the premiere on her Instagram account

Zonfrillo’s colleagues on MasterChef did not seem to know he had died as the publicity machine for the new season was in motion as late as 11:30am on Monday, when Melissa Leong posted a countdown clock for the premiere on her Instagram account

Zonfrillo’s colleagues on MasterChef did not seem to know he had died as the publicity machine for the new season was in motion as late as 11:30am on Monday, when Leong posted a countdown clock for the premiere on her Instagram account.

Leong, 41, also did an interview with Hit WA Breakfast at about 8am on Monday – after Zonfrillo had passed away but before she was made aware of it – in which she spoke of the pair’s close friendship.

Her radio appearance was to promote the new season of MasterChef.

Channel 10 cancels MasterChef after Jock’s death 

Network 10 has announced MasterChef Australia will be postponed following the sudden death of judge Jock Zonfrillo.

The fifteenth season of the cooking show was set to premiere on Monday but Ten has confirmed it will not be airing this week.

The network had high hopes for the latest season, having secured British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver as a fourth judge in a major coup. 

Zonfrillo, who started his career working under Michelin-starred chef Marco Pierre White in the UK, famously overcame an addiction to heroin during his teenage years in Glasgow before becoming one of Australia’s most celebrated chefs.

He once said he owed his life to food, telling an interviewer: ‘It saved my life. A lot of my friends from my early days are dead now or in jail.

‘The thing about being a junkie is that the only way you can get out is if there’s something in your life more compelling than drugs. And for me, I had another addiction: to food and to cooking. That’s what moved me on. That’s how I survived.’

After getting clean and establishing himself in Britain, Zonfrillo migrated to Australia and became the head chef at Sydney’s Restaurant 41 in the year 2000.

He opened the award-winning Restaurant Orana in Adelaide in 2013.

In 2018, the year before he joined MasterChef, he was named Australia’s Hottest Chef by The Australian newspaper.

That year, Orana was also named Australia’s best restaurant by the Good Food Guide.

Restaurant Orana closed its doors in 2020 when it went into voluntary administration with debts totalling $3.2 million.

The Scottish-Australian chef and restaurateur became a host of the popular Channel 10 cooking show in 2019 alongside Andy Allen (far left) and Melissa Leong (right). British chef Jamie Oliver (centre) was due to be a guest judge on this year's season of MasterChef

The Scottish-Australian chef and restaurateur became a host of the popular Channel 10 cooking show in 2019 alongside Andy Allen (far left) and Melissa Leong (right). British chef Jamie Oliver (centre) was due to be a guest judge on this year’s season of MasterChef

Tributes from the celebrity and culinary worlds flooded in on Monday afternoon

Tributes from the celebrity and culinary worlds flooded in on Monday afternoon

Tributes from the celebrity and culinary worlds flooded in on Monday afternoon.

Fellow expatriate chef and TV personality Colin Fassnidge told Daily Mail Australia: ‘It’s so shocking. I’m sitting on a rock right now trying to take it in, I don’t know what to say. I’m floored.

‘I’ve had to call my wife straight away when I heard.’

Fassnidge, who had been friends with Zonfrillo for 20 years and last saw him two weeks ago at the Taste of Adelaide food festival, said there was no indication anything was going wrong for him, and the news was a complete surprise.

Fellow expatriate chef and TV personality Colin Fassnidge (pictured) told Daily Mail Australia: 'It's so shocking. I'm sitting on a rock right now trying to take it in, I don't know what to say. I'm floored'

Fellow expatriate chef and TV personality Colin Fassnidge (pictured) told Daily Mail Australia: ‘It’s so shocking. I’m sitting on a rock right now trying to take it in, I don’t know what to say. I’m floored’

‘He was flying, he was doing a great job, he had a great show, he was on top of the world. Jock was normal, he was healthy and he was living a good life,’ he said.

‘I just feel so sorry for his other half.’

Fassnidge revealed Zonfrillo’s passing had rocked the hospitality industry.

‘We all battle each other in the ratings, but we’re all one big family in hospitality,’ he said.

‘At a certain level, all the chefs know each other.

‘Everyone is ringing. Everyone knows the entire community is in shock.

‘He’s another version of me. He likes a joke. He liked the whisky in the old days. He’s just a great TV host and a great cook.

‘I don’t know what I think yet. We were rivals, and we were friends.’

Meanwhile, Studio 10 host Narelda Jacobs wrote on Instagram: ‘Holding Jock’s family close to my heart and thinking of those in his circle at this saddest of time.

‘He touched so many of us.’

MasterChef contestant Reynold Poernomo said: ‘I’m so shocked. Rest in peace, chef. My heart and condolences to [your] loved ones.’

Fellow franchise alum Khanh Ong added: ‘I’m so, so sorry. My condolences.’ 

Former Channel 10 newsreader Georgie Love said: ‘I’m so shocked and saddened by this. Jock was so kind… I’m so sorry.’

Melissa Leong’s radio interview before she learned Jock had died 

Zonfrillo’s colleagues on MasterChef did not seem to know he had died as the publicity machine for the new season was in motion as late as 11:30am on Monday, when Leong posted a countdown clock for the premiere on her Instagram account.

Leong, 41, also did an interview with Hit WA Breakfast at about 8am on Monday – after Zonfrillo had passed away but before she was made aware of it – in which she spoke of the pair’s close friendship.

Her radio appearance was to promote the new season of MasterChef.

She spoke fondly having eating competitions with Zonfrillo on set of MasterChef, telling the hosts: ‘Over the years I used to be a very competitive eater, especially with Jock.

Fellow MasterChef judge Melissa Leong, 41, did an interview with Hit WA Breakfast at about 8am on Monday - after Zonfrillo had passed away but before she was made aware of it - in which she spoke of the pair's close friendship

Fellow MasterChef judge Melissa Leong, 41, did an interview with Hit WA Breakfast at about 8am on Monday – after Zonfrillo had passed away but before she was made aware of it – in which she spoke of the pair’s close friendship

‘And I learned very quickly not to try to keep up with Jock because you will lose. He has hollow legs and can eat at a rate and a volume that defies physics, logic and science. It just doesn’t… you don’t understand it.’

She explained that Zonfrillo, who has always been slim, would ‘eat all day’ both on and off set.

Leong went on to praise Zonfrillo for his many talents, saying: ‘He’s freakishly talented, super lovely, really funny, totally handsome, rocks a three-piece suit like nobody else, and he can eat for days.

‘It’s quite frankly outrageous.’

Channel Ten and production company Endemol Shine Australia said in a statement: ‘[We] are deeply shocked and saddened at the sudden loss of Jock Zonfrillo, a beloved member of the MasterChef Australia family.

‘Jock passed away in Melbourne yesterday. Jock was known to Australians as a chef, best-selling author, philanthropist and MasterChef judge but he will be best remembered as a loving father, husband, brother and son.

‘Determined and talented and with plenty of grit, Jock was born in Glasgow to an Italian father and a Scottish mother, which meant his formative years were heavily influenced by two strong cultures and it was his obsession with food and desire for a new pushbike that at just 12 years old fuelled Jock to knock on kitchen doors looking for a job.

Zonfrillo is seen here with his friend and MasterChef co-host Andy Allen at the Melbourne Cup on November 1, 2022

Zonfrillo is seen here with his friend and MasterChef co-host Andy Allen at the Melbourne Cup on November 1, 2022

Zonfrillo famously overcame a heroin addiction as a teenager in Glasgow to become one of Australia's most famous chefs. He would often wear a kilt on MasterChef in homage to his roots

Zonfrillo famously overcame a heroin addiction as a teenager in Glasgow to become one of Australia’s most famous chefs. He would often wear a kilt on MasterChef in homage to his roots

‘Jock’s love and passion for food saw him become one of the youngest culinary students to do an apprenticeship at The Turnberry Hotel at just 15 years of age. From that point onwards there was no holding him back and by 17 he was working alongside Marco Pierre White at his eponymous Restaurant Marco Pierre White.

‘Throughout his career he worked with world famous chefs and in restaurants all over the world. His talent saw him shine in the world’s most formidable kitchens and he opened Bistro Blackwood and Restaurant Orana in Adelaide after moving to Australia.

‘Jock’s Restaurant Orana was recognised with the coveted distinction of three hats in both 2019 and 2020 and he also received global accolades, accepting the prestigious Basque Culinary World Prize in 2018.

‘In 2019, Jock was named as a judge on MasterChef Australia in which he took great pride in challenging and coaching the contestants and of course inspiring a nation of home cooks.

‘Jock’s charisma, wicked sense of humour, generosity, passion and love for food and his family cannot be measured. He will be greatly missed.’

Jock’s eerie last Instagram post just hours before he died 

Zonfrillo shared a post on Instagram promoting the brand-new season of MasterChef Australia hours before his death on Sunday.

He uploaded a photo of British chef Jamie Oliver, who is a guest judge on season 15, alongside a caption promoting Monday’s premiere.

The season launch has since been postponed in light of Zonfrillo’s death.

‘MasterChef: Secrets & Surprises. Starts 7:30pm tomorrow,’ the post stated.

‘The time has come for @masterchefau to kick off a new season filled with Secrets & Surprises! And @jamieoliver of course,’ Zonfrillo added.

Zonfrillo shared this post on Instagram promoting the brand-new season of MasterChef Australia hours before his death on Sunday

Zonfrillo shared this post on Instagram promoting the brand-new season of MasterChef Australia hours before his death on Sunday 

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