So that news of his passing gutted my partner. She loves that show so far away around the world. He had cancer and I hope he passed from that and did not die from taking his own life. That would be sad and not a good thing for his soul. And what a soul and life this man had up to his 46 years! A very colorful life indeed and a good chef so my partner always sid.
The other two judges must also be gutted and I feel sorry for them too. There will have to be a third judge elected soon for next year and while I have no idea who that will be – I know – my loving wife will be watching.
GODSPEED JOCK – CONDOLENCES TO YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY.
Jock Zonfrillo remembered in televised tribute as MasterChef Australia returns
Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, Nigella and Marco Pierre White among those giving emotional tributes to late chef ahead of 15th series
@siancainSun 7 May 2023 07.42 EDT
Celebrity chefs including Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Nigella Lawson and former boss Marco Pierre White have remembered Jock Zonfrillo in a televised tribute dedicated to the late MasterChef Australia judge a week after his sudden death.
Network 10 aired the first episode of the new season of MasterChef Australia on Sunday night, having delayed the premiere until Zonfrillo’s family gave their blessing for it to air. Filming of the series was completed last month.
The first episode aired without changes, but production company Endemol Shine Australia has dropped the name of the 15th season, Secrets and Surprises, from promotions.
Network 10 also aired a one-hour episode of the Sunday Project dedicated to Zonfrillo beforehand, which revealed that the Scotland-born chef and his family had permanently relocated to Rome just three weeks before he died.
The 46-year-old had flown back to Australia to promote the new season when his body was found in Melbourne on 1 May. No cause of death has yet been revealed, but Victoria police are not treating the death as suspicious.
Fellow MasterChef judge Andy Allen said he had lunch with Zonfrillo the day before his death and said the chef was in “such good spirits”.
Allen said he felt guilty that he had had that opportunity with Zonfrillo instead of his family, who were in Italy at the time.
“Part of me just feels guilty that it wasn’t them, I just wish it was them having lunch with Jock. I’d give anything to swap positions,” he said.
He passed on a message from Zonfrillo’s family, who have returned to Australia: “They just wanted me to say they can feel the support for Jock and themselves. They’re hurting but it does help. They have been overwhelmed with how much support there has been for him and the whole family. They didn’t know. It has been unreal to see how much support there has been.”
Ramsay, who worked with Zonfrillo in the 1990s in the UK, was emotional as he remembered his fellow Scot, saying his death was “a massive shock”.
“He was a lad that refused to get old, he refused to toe the line. He just wanted to have fun,” he said.
“The ripples have been devastating, no one is going to get over this quickly. If there is one thing we’ve done as chefs is we’ve united and have been talking about the good times,” he added, before breaking down. “It’s just so painful.”
Oliver recalled meeting Zonfrillo for the first time when Oliver took his now wife to his restaurant in Cornwall. “It was me and Jules’s first date weekend and we went there, and there he was, young Jock, 22 years old, head chef with a beautiful menu and beautiful food,” he said. “I remember it because it was the first time I remember being spoiled by another chef.”
White, who was one of the first chefs to employ Zonfrillo in the UK, said, “Jock came to me when he was 17 years old, his enthusiasm was greater than his knowledge, but it was that enthusiasm which drove him, maybe fuelled by his fears of failure, by his insecurities, which I could relate to.”
“You could see he was very gifted, he was very intelligent,” he added. “He was filled with empathy and compassion. He had qualities very few chefs possess.”
“My heart breaks, I’m sure as everyone’s does, for Jock’s children and his family and everyone who loved him. This is an old-fashioned phrase here but may his memory be a blessing,” Nigella said.
“I never met a Scottish-Italian before you – we hit it off in so many bloody ways. One of my favourite memories is drinking whisky and singing Scottish songs with you,” said singer Jimmy Barnes, who performed The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond in tribute to his friend.
Zonfrillo joined MasterChef Australia as a judge in 2019 alongside Allen and Melissa Leong, replacing the show’s original judges George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston.
The Australian Financial Review has reported that the show’s major advertisers were contacted by Network 10 and assured the show would air before Zonfrillo’s death was announced. When the news broke, 10 pulled digital ads and promos for the show, but it was too late to remove billboards and bus ads.
Edits of future episodes are being reviewed to ensure they remain respectful to Zonfrillo.
On the first episode of the new season, a former MasterChef contestant who left the show prematurely due to mental health concerns returned. Clips of Zonfrillo counselling the contestant, Brent Draper, on his decision to leave at the time were shown.