‘You really were the complete package mate’: Masterchef judges pay tribute to Jock Zonfrillo

‘You really were the complete package mate’: Masterchef judges pay tribute to Jock Zonfrillo


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MasterChef Australia judges Melissa Leong and Andy Allen have remembered their late colleague, Jock Zonfrillo, as an inspirational and life-changing friend after the chef’s shock death aged 46.

Zonfrillo, an award-winning restaurateur, was found dead at 2am on Sunday after Victoria Police conducted a welfare check at a hotel in Lygon Street, Melbourne.

Jock Zonfrillo (left) with fellow MasterChef judges Melissa Leong and Andy Allen.Credit: Network 10

Leong, who was hired to present the Network Ten cooking show alongside Zonfrillo in 2019, took to Instagram to pay tribute to the late Scot.

“Four years ago, the three of us stood on a precipice and leapt together. I could never have guessed how much of an impact your arrival in my life would have, or that we would be saying goodbye to you so soon. You were always supposed to be the bulletproof one who outlived us all,” Leong wrote.

“In that time, you showed me what true excellence looks like both in the kitchen and outside of it; your kindness and generosity, the many lives you’ve lived, the way you carried far more on your shoulders than most could ever know.

“Thank you for challenging me daily, for making me better, my work buddy and friend, purveyor of excellent morning coffees, hater of pears, okra and nasturtiums.”

Zonfrillo moved to Australia aged 20 and was known for championing Indigenous ingredients at his award-winning Adelaide restaurant Orana, which went into voluntary administration in 2020.

Zonfrillo had been married to Lauren Fried since 2017. They had two children together, six-year-old Alfie and two-year-old Isla. He also had two teenage daughters, Ava and Sophia, from two previous marriages.

Andy Allen, a former MasterChef Australia winner himself, also posted a tribute on Instagram on Tuesday afternoon.

“When I met you five years ago, I knew our lives were about to change forever. What I didn’t realise is how close [my wife] Alex and I would become outside of the kitchen with you, Lauren and your kids,” Allen wrote.

“You’ve become such an inspirational and important part of our lives. Sure, you’ve taught me so much about food, but it’s the lessons I learnt about what it means to be a great father, husband and friend that I’ll take away from our time together and will last forever.

“I’ll miss the way you mentored me and every contestant that walked into the MasterChef kitchen. I’ll miss you ordering the entire menu no matter how many dishes deep and making me eat every last bite. I’ll miss your morning on-set coffees that made me shake from the amount of caffeine you were able to extract out of every individual bean. I’ll miss the morning FaceTimes with Loz, Alfie and Isla, but overall, I’ll miss you looking out for me every single day.

“Thanks for making me constantly laugh and being there when I needed to cry.

“You really were the complete package mate and life will never be the same without you. I know you’ll be looking down on Loz, Ava, Sophia, Alfie & Isla.”

The 15th season of MasterChef Australia was due to begin on Monday night. But, Ten has announced the series will now not air this week.

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