MasterChef Australia host chef Jock Zonfrillo death
MasterChef Australia host Jock Zonfrillo (Image courtesy of Channel 10)

MasterChef Australia judge Jock Zonfrillo has suddenly passed away at the age of 46. The untimely demise of the Scottish former chef has shocked the culinary community. He breathed his last on April 30 in Melbourne, according to a public statement. The cause of Jock Zonfrillo’s death remains unclear. 

Jock Zonfrillo is survived by his wife and four children. His family confirmed his death in a statement. They expressed their devastating loss and requested that those who knew him keep his memory close. The new season of MasterChef Australia, slated to commence this week, has been put on hold following Jock Zonfrillo’s death.

Exploring the life and career of MasterChef Australia host Jock Zonfrillo

Jock Zonfrillo was one of the judges on MasterChef Australia’s 2019 edition, joining forces with Andy Allen and Melissa Long. This came after Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris, and Matt Preston’s exit.

There were doubts about the program’s ratings taking a hit with the changing of the guard. However, the show has sustained its status as one of the most successful reality competitions in Australia and overseas.

Hailing from Glasgow, Jock embarked on his culinary journey at the age of 15 with an apprenticeship at The Turnberry Hotel. He worked as an apprentice with renowned chef Marco-Pierre White.

After rising to the position of head chef at The Tresanton in the United Kingdom at the age of 22, he relocated to Restaurant 41 in Sydney, Australia, where he had earlier served for a year.

In 2013, Jock Zonfrillo established two of his eateries, one of which, Orana, was recognized as Australia’s Restaurant of the Year by two publications in 2018 and 2019. The Australian newspaper crowned him the Hottest Chef in Australia in 2018.

Jock Zonfrillo’s controversial early personal life

The Scot’s culinary successes were accompanied by setbacks. The restaurateur had to place his restaurants, Orana and Bistro Blackwood, under administration due to debt. 

In 2002, he set an apprentice chef Martin Krammer on fire for not moving fast enough. He claimed it was a harmless prank, but a judge ordered him to pay Krammer A$75,000 ($50,000) in damages. Subsequently, Krammer filed a creditors’ petition, and Zonfrillo declared bankruptcy in 2007.

In 2021, Jock Zonfrillo’s memoir, “Last Shot,” was published. However, his former mentor Marco-Pierre White disputed many of the stories. He said that “almost everything” was untrue. Zonfrillo stood his ground and justified the chapters by saying that “This is the story of my life.”

Social media tributes for the MasterChef Australia host

Members of the international culinary community as well as MasterChef Australia fans took to Twitter to express their condolences for Jock Zonfrillo’s untimely death. 

Veterans from the world of cooking such as Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver have paid tribute to the late MasterChef Australia host.

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