Jock Zonfrillo, ‘MasterChef Australia’ Judge, Dies at 46


Jock Zonfrillo, a Scottish TV presenter and former chef, known for his recent role as a judge on “MasterChef Australia,” has died suddenly. He was 46.

Zonfrillo died on April 30 in Melbourne, TV broadcaster Network Ten said in a statement on Monday. No cause of death was disclosed.

“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,” said Zonfrillo’s family carried as part of the Network Ten new release. “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.”

Zonfrillo was born in Glasgow to an Italian father and a Scottish mother and obtained an apprenticeship at The Turnberry Hotel at 15 years of age. By 17 he was working alongside Marco Pierre White at his eponymous Restaurant Marco Pierre White.

After moving to Australia, Zonfrillo opened Bistro Blackwood and Restaurant Orana in Adelaide, with the latter winning significant culinary awards. “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,” Network Ten said.

He led a colorful and controversial life. In 2002, he set fire to an apprentice in his restaurant, apparently for working too slowly. Damages were awarded by a court, but he was declared bankrupt in 2007, after failing to pay. Other controversies surrounded his Orana Foundation (intended to preserve historic cooking techniques) and the bankruptcy of the two Adelaide restaurants.

He was married three times and reportedly met his third wife, Lauren Fried, via Twitter.

“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,” said Network Ten. “Jock’s charisma, wicked sense of humor, generosity, passion and love for food and his family cannot be measured. He will be greatly missed.”

From Variety US