Masterchef star dies aged 46 as celebrity chefs pay tribute

Jock Zonfrillo, who appeared as a judge on MasterChef Australia, has sadly passed away at the age of 46.

The Scottish-born chef’s death was confirmed by his family in a statement, which 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 (April 30),” as cited by The Independent.

“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,” they added.

While the cause of death wasn’t revealed, a Victoria Police spokesperson disclosed that the death was not being treated as suspicious, stating: “Police attended a Lygon Street address for a welfare check and located a man deceased about 2am on May 1. The 46-year-old man’s death is not being treated as suspicious,” according to Metro.

MasterChef Australia’s new season was due to premiere on Monday night, but Network 10 confirmed that it will not air this week due to the sad news.

Upon hearing the upsetting news, several culinarians have taken to their social media to share tribute statements.

Hell’s Kitchen star Gordon Ramsay wrote: “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.”

British chef Jamie Oliver – who was a guest on the first episode of the forthcoming season – wrote on Instagram that he was “in total shock”.

“We had the best time working together for this year’s MasterChef, I can’t tell how good it was to work with him!” he said. “Jock was very generous to me with his time and spirit in the show and for that I was really grateful … Jock will be so very missed … I can’t believe I’m writing this.”

Fellow expatriate chef and TV personality Colin Fassnidge told Daily Mail Australia: “It’s so shocking. I’m sitting on a rock right now trying to take it in, I don’t know what to say. I’m floored…I’ve had to call my wife straight away when I heard.”

Per The Guardian, Peter Newman, chief executive officer at Endemol Shine Australia, recalled his memories with Zonfrillo, saying: “On set he was loved by the team and his passion for food and the show was infectious.”

“He was also a brilliant champion for the contestants on MasterChef, always wanting the very best for them. He will be deeply missed by the entire MasterChef team. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time,” he added.

Zonfrillo worked under Michelin-starred chef Marco Pierre White at the beginning of his career before establishing himself as the head chef at Restaurant 41 in Sydney in 2000. He then went on to open his own Restaurant Orana in 2013.

He is survived by his wife and four children.

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