Jamie Oliver leads tributes to MasterChef Australia judge Jock Zonfrillo
Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay have expressed their “shock” and “sadness” following the death of MasterChef Australia judge Jock Zonfrillo aged 46.
The Glasgow-born chef, who struggled with addiction as a teenager before rising to become one of Australia’s best known TV figures, had presented the programme since 2019.
The new series was due to air on Australian television on Monday night with Oliver among its celebrity guests.
Victoria Police said they had attended an address on Lygon Street in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton for a welfare check where they found a body at around 2am on Monday May 1.
The death is not being treated as suspicious.
In a statement on Facebook, Zonfrillo’s family asked the public to let them “grieve privately” and described him as an “irreplaceable husband, father, brother, son and friend”.
TV chef and restaurateur Oliver shared a photo of himself with Zonfrillo and fellow MasterChef Australia judges Melissa Leong and Andy Allen.
“I’m in total shock to wake up to the sudden death of chef Jock Zonfrillo,” he said.
“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.”
Oliver said Zonfrillo would be “so very missed” and sent his “heartfelt love and condolences” to his family and friends, and those who worked on MasterChef.
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
— Gordon Ramsay (@GordonRamsay) May 1, 2023
Ramsay also recalled working with the late chef, tweeting: “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.”
Indian chef and restaurateur, Kunal Kapur, known for judging MasterChef India, expressed his “deepest condolences” on Twitter.
He added: “His sudden departure from this world has left us all in shock and disbelief.”
Born in Glasgow to an Italian father and Scottish mother, Zonfrillo left school aged 15 and started an apprenticeship at The Turnberry Hotel in South Ayrshire before moving on to other high-end kitchens.
He struggled with addiction from his early years after first trying heroin as a teenager and was fired from his job aged 17 following a heated argument.
In his 2021 memoir Last Shot, Zonfrillo charted his journey from “reckless drug addict” to one of Australia’s best-known chefs.
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. pic.twitter.com/cmtDuJr19P
— MasterChef Australia (@masterchefau) May 1, 2023
A family statement posted on his Facebook page 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.
“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.”
In a joint statement issued by Network 10 and the programme’s producers Endemol Shine Australia, it was confirmed the presenter died in Melbourne.
The statement added the show will now not be broadcast this week.
A statement from Victoria Police to the PA news agency said: “Police will prepare a report for the coroner following the death of a man in Carlton.
“Police attended a Lygon Street address for a welfare check and located a man deceased about 2am on May 1. The 46-year-old man’s death is not being treated as suspicious.”