Jock Zonfrillo, a judge on MasterChef Australia, chef, and author, has died at the age of 46. Zonfrillo was a world-renowned chef who was most famous as a judge at MasterChef Australia. He was adored by not just his immediate family but also by everyone around him. Zonfrillo’s family released the following statement in response to the news of his passing: “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.” The family has asked that the public and media respect their right to a quiet and calm time of mourning.
His family confirmed his death on Monday (1), that he had died on Sunday (30) in Melbourne. A Victoria Police spokesperson confirmed that the death was not being treated as suspicious. However, the cause of death is yet to be released.
Jock Zonfrillo can be regarded as a celebrity who experienced his own ups and downs in life but conquered them all to live a happy life.
Back in the UK, as he later revealed in interviews, he had battled with a crippling addiction to heroin which had taken hold of his life by the time he was 15.
At age 17, he kept abusing heroin while working at a one Michelin star restaurant in Chester, England’s northwest. He was fired as a result of a foul-mouthed outburst. He refused to give up and went to the restaurant of renowned chef Marco Pierre White to beg for a job. Despite receiving a terrible reference, he got hired.
Zonfrillo’s addiction however continued and, before being found out by a co-worker, he was sleeping in the restaurant’s change rooms between working 18-hour days.
With the help of White, who in his autobiography Last Shot he referred to as a “father figure” who “saved my life”, he found suitable accommodation.
Throughout his time working for White, Zonfrillo continued to use drugs, and renowned chef White was well aware of his activities.
Until Zonfrillo was hired as the head chef at Restaurant 41 in Sydney, he continued using drugs.
He has made a promise to himself that landing in Australia in the year 2000 would be where he would turn over a new leaf:
“New Year’s Eve when I flew to Australia, it was a clean start for me,” he has said. Thus, after moving to Australia in 2000, late MasterChef judge Jock Zonfrillo overcame his debilitating heroin addiction and changed his life.
He quickly got to work making the most of his fresh start. In 2020, Zonfrillo told news.com.au, “Back then, if you had any kind of drug addiction or anything like that, you were cast off.”
After a nine-year struggle, Zonfrillo stopped becoming a victim of drug addiction.
“I’m not proud of it at all,” he said about his drug use. “It’s embarrassing and it’s embarrassing for my parents. But I’m thankful to have been able to come through the other side of that and I’m thankful for all the people who helped me at the right moments.”
Zonfrillo then opened Restaurant Orana in Adelaide, and The Australian awarded him Australia’s Hottest Chef in 2018. He also received the coveted Basque Culinary World Prize that year. Zonfrillo, who was already well-known in the hospitality industry, rose to fame on television when viewers fell head over heels for him on MasterChef
He was passionate about rediscovering authentic Australian recipes and he was attracted to food lovers with his unbeaten culinary skills.
Alongside Melissa Leong and Andy Allen, he joined the Channel 10 program in 2019 for the 2020 season; however, he passed away the day before the 2023 season’s scheduled return. For this week, the series will not be broadcast.
In 2021, Zonfrillo has also been open about his battles with addiction, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Having a set of worry beads on hand at all times, he added, has made it easier for him to deal with his anxiety. “When I’m nervous or anxious, my brain just starts racing, like I’m thinking irrationally, so by using the worry beads, it calms that noise in my brain,” he has stated.
In a 2014 interview looking back on his experience in hospitality, he blamed the breakdown of his first two marriages on the demanding lifestyle that came with his business and being a workaholic. “Two divorces, a handful of friends because you don’t have the time to spend with them, so you can count on your close friends on the one hand, and a deep mistrust of most people. At the end of the day, it is all that is left. Is it actually all that glamorous, though? I don’t believe so.” he stated.
He married his third wife Lauren Fried in 2017 and had two children, Alfie and Isla, together. Zonfrillo also has two daughters, Ava and Sophia, from his first two marriages.
Jock Zonfrillo was at his core a person who conquered his obstacles and was open about his journey as a way of guiding others who would benefit from hearing his story. People around the world have shown their respect after his passing. Those who cherished and admired him continue to remember him. May he rest in peace.