Culinary world remembers Chef Jock Zonfrillo: He knew how to make people happy with his cooking and charm
Zonfrillo’s family confirmed the news in a statement shared on social media. “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.
Jock Zonfrillo, award-winning chef and a judge on MasterChef Australia, passed away Sunday at the age of 46. Zonfrillo’s family confirmed the news in a statement shared on social media. “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,” the note added.
His untimely demise came as a shock to the culinary world, with many fondly remembering the chef’s journey.
Chef Saransh Golia told indianexpress.com, “It is really shocking to hear about his sudden death. The MasterChef Season 15 was to air tonight and being a fan of the show, I was really looking forward to it. Jock was well known for his restaurant Orana, which was recognised with the prestigious distinction of three hats in both 2019 and 2020. He will be remembered not only for his cooking but as someone who was witty and had a wicked sense of humour.”
Opening up about his social media interactions with Zonfrillo where they would discuss their “passion for cooking”, Goila added that he had written to him expressing his desire to “catch up someday in Australia”. “Unfortunately, this dream of mine will remain unfulfilled. His passing has left a big void. He’s more than just a chef. He deeply and passionately cared about the world of food and always knew how to make people happy with both his cooking and charm,” the chef continued.
Chef Kunal Kapoor, who is a judge on MasterChef India, recalled interacting with Zonfrillo in a crossover episode. “I am still processing the fact that he is no more. I was just about to congratulate him on the new season of MasterChef Australia. I did a cooking session with him where we discussed our passion for food. He brought a unique Scottish-Australian blend to his cooking style, which made the show much more heartwarming. Jock will be remembered for his friendly and down-to-earth nature.”
Pastry chef Pooja Dhingra also expressed sorrow upon his passing. “I’m deeply saddened by his death. He was someone who was always so full of life. From becoming a head chef at age 22, opening two award-winning restaurants and being everyone’s favourite MasterChef judge — he’s contributed a lot to the world of food. he was a wonderful mentor to all the contestants, always motivating them and bringing out the best in them. One of his major contributions was placing a lot of emphasis on Australia’s indigenous food and the different ways one could play around with it. He will be fondly remembered for his grit, determination and testing the status quo.”
Zonfrillo was found dead at a house in Melbourne, after police were called to conduct a welfare check in the early hours of Monday morning. Victoria Police said the death is not being treated as suspicious.
MasterChef Season 15 will not air in light of the judge’s death. The show tweeted its decision alongside a tribute to Jock, which read, “Network 10 and Endemol Shine Australia 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. MasterChef Australia will not air this week.”
Meanwhile, tributes poured in for the legendary chef on social media. Gordon Ramsay took to Twitter to share his condolences. “Saddened by the devastating news of Jock Zonfrillo’s passing. I truly enjoyed the time we spent together on MasterChef in Australia. Sending my love to Lauren and the family in this difficult time,” he wrote.
Australian singer Jimmy Barnes also paid his tribute to Zonfrillo. “It’s a very sad day. We’ve lost another dear friend. Jock was like a brother to me, and we made each other laugh and cry. My heart goes out to his family. I am speechless. Rest my friend,” he tweeted.
British chef Jamie Oliver also expressed his grief in an Instagram post.
“I’m in total shock to wake up to the sudden death of chef Jock Zonfrillo. We had the best time working together for this year’s MasterChef, I can’t tell how good it was to work with him! Jock was very generous to me with his time and spirit in the show and for that I was really grateful. Mellisa, Andy and Jock work as the most inspiring judges and mentors and each have their very own unique view and style. Jock will be so very missed. I can’t believe I’m writing this. Sending heart felt love and condolences to all of his family, friends and his second family the MasterChef team and contestants,” he wrote.
Zonfrillo is survived by his wife and four children.