CELEBRITY

Friends, family, fans and colleagues pay tribute to Jock Zonfrillo

"He just wanted the best for us."
Loading the player...

The family of Jock Zonfrillo confirmed the beloved MasterChef judge had passed away via a statement shared to his Instagram account on May 1, 2023.

WATCH NOW: MasterChef 2023 winner Brent Draper shares his favourite memory of Jock Zonfrillo.

The statement read, “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.”

Jock was 46 years old and, as confirmed by Victoria Police, his cause of death is not being treated as suspicious. As of April 2024, a coroner’s report is currently still being prepared. 

m
The win was bittersweet without Jock (Credit: Channel Seven)

Tributes for Jock came pouring in once his family announced his passing.

At the 63rd TV Week Logie Awards – where MasterChef Fans vs Favourites won ‘Most Popular Reality Program’, former contestants and colleagues paid tribute to the larger-than-life star. 

“Thankyou so much to the audience for sticking with us, through thick and thin, especially through the year we’ve had,” MasterChef co-judge Melissa Leong said before becoming visibly emotional. 

Executive Producer Marty Benson then took over with a heartfelt tribute of his own. 

“As I stand here tonight, it’s still hard to believe that my mate and our amazing judge Jock is no longer with us. So, big man, this is 100% dedicated to you.”

“Tonight we are going to celebrate Jock-style. Please, everybody, give it up for Jock!,” to which there was emotional applause throughout the room. 

WATCH NOW: Manu Fieldel pays tribute to Jock Zonfrillo. Article continues after video. 

Loading the player...

A month on from the emotional MasterChef win at the Logies, 2023 winner Brent Draper took to his Instagram stories to share his favourite memory of Jock, with whom he shared a close bond. 

“My favourite memory is when we did the challenge at Grazeland, when we had to feed 500 people, and Jock was on our team and Andy was on the other team, and Jock was sticking a rock up my a** the whole way through.”

“The cameras didn’t see it but he was pushing me and making sure I was getting everything done, all in such an amazing way. He just wanted the best of us. I’ll [always] remember that. It was a good day.”

m
“This Carbonara is for you.” (Credit: Instagram)

Shortly after, Andy Allen (who was notably absent from the event presumably due to his holiday in Europe) took his Instagram to celebrate his late friend. 

“Congrats on your Logie mate. This Carbonara is for you, Loz, Ava, Sofia, Alfie and Isla.”

The two images accompanying the post were of Andy and Jock goofing around, and Andy making carbonara for Jock in his kitchen. 

Jock’s widow Lauren was quick to comment on the heartfelt post. 

“I’ll forever be grateful for MasterChef as it bought you and @alexxandra.allen into our lives. Now more than ever. Love you. Iz xx”

jock zonfrillo
May he rest in peace. (Credit: Getty)

Prior to that, his daughter Ava, 22, shared a touching commemoration. Taking to Instagram, she posted a series of photos with the heartfelt caption, “Still can’t accept that we’ll be remembering you for more time than we had you, but doesn’t mean we’ll love you any less. I love you dad, always.”

She also took to Instagram to share a devasting photo montage of treasured memories she shared with her father, simply captioning the post “I never thought I’d loose you at 22.”

The accompanying audio was equally heartbreaking: “I miss you, Dad, I miss you until I close my eyes.” 

WATCH NOW: Ava Zonfrillo grieves her late father. Article continues after video. 

Loading the player...

When the news of his death was first made public, Jock’s MasterChef colleague Andy Allen penned a beautiful tribute on Instagram. “When I met you 5 years ago, I knew our lives were about to change forever. What I didn’t realise is how close Alex and I would become outside of the kitchen with you, Lauren, and your kids,” Andy 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 learned 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,” he continued.

“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. Give it up for Jock Zonfrillo ❤️.”

ava-zonfrillo-and-father
“I love you dad, always.” (Credit: Instagram)

Fellow MasterChef judge Melissa Leong also took to her Instagram at the time to share a similarly heartfelt message. 

“Four years ago, the three of us stood on a precipice and jumped. 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,” she 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.”

jock and andy
“I’ll miss you looking out for me every single day,” Andy Allen wrote in a lovely tribute to Jock. (Credit: Instagram)

“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,” Melissa continued. 

“This all feels too raw too process still, I suspect it will for some time. Such is the impact of a life lived so large, with so much levity and entirely on your own terms.”

“My heart goes out to your family, who were and are your life.”

“A wee dram for you today, and always.”

f
After meeting on the set of MasterChef, these three became firm friends. (Credit: Instagram)

Famed chef and MasterChef guest judge Jamie Oliver also took to Instagram upon hearing the news. 

“I’m in total shock to wake up to the sudden death of chef Jock Zonfrillo,” Jamie wrote on Instagram. “We had the best time working together for this year’s MasterChef, I can’t tell [you] 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… Melissa, Andy & Jock work as the most inspiring judges and mentors and each has their very own unique view and style… Jock will be so very missed… I can’t believe I’m writing this…….Sending heartfelt love and condolences to all of his family, friends, and his second family the MasterChef team and contestants xxx. Love Jamie.”

Former MasterChef judge and close friend of Jock’s, Matt Moran, also shared a tribute post to his Instagram, “I’m lost for words, a great mate for over 20 years and one of the best chefs I have ever known. Absolutely heartbreaking. My thoughts are with Lauren and his family. We’ll miss you, chef.”

jamie-oliver-masterchef-jock-zonfrillo
“Jock was very generous to me with his time and spirit in the show and for that I was really grateful,” Jamie Oliver wrote in his tribute. (Credit: Instagram)

Jimmy Barnes took to Twitter and wrote, “It’s a very sad day. We’ve lost another dear friend. Jock was like a brother to me and we made each other laugh and cry. My heart goes out to his family. I am speechless. Rest my friend xx.”

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay also took to Twitter to express his condolences, “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.” 

WATCH NOW: MasterChef judge Jock Zonfrillo explains why he carries worry beads. Article continues after video.

Loading the player...

The official Instagram for Masterchef Australia also wrote an incredibly heartfelt tribute to Jock.

Jock was known to Australians as a chef, best-selling author, philanthropist and MasterChef judge but he will be best remembered as a loving father, husband, brother and son,” it read.

“In 2019, Jock was named as a judge on MasterChef Australia in which he took great pride in challenging and coaching the contestants and of course inspiring a nation of home cooks. Jock’s charisma, wicked sense of humour, generosity, passion, and love for food and his family cannot be measured. He will be greatly missed,” it continued.

In a tribute episode of The Project that aired prior to the delayed season premiere on Sunday, May 7, several notable celebrity chefs, colleagues, and dear friends paid tribute to their beloved Jock. 

Former mentor Marco Pierre-White described Jock as “rare” and one of the most brilliant culinary minds of the 21st century. 

“It was that enthusiasm that drove him. Maybe fuelled by his fears of failure, by his insecurities, which I could relate to,” Marco said of Jock’s approach to cooking. 

Fellow chefs Matt Moran and Shannon Bennet also spoke of Jock’s love of learning and teaching the culinary arts. 

“The pursuit of perfection and knowledge, and being inquisitive is an endless road, Jock was very good at reminding people of that,” Shannon said. 

“I think Jock made a difference to anyone he connected with. If you ever needed to bounce anything off, Jock was the person,” Matt added. 

Related stories