Jock Zonfrillo’s MasterChef co-judge pays tribute to ‘mentor’ after death

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Jock Zonfrillo’s fellow judge on MasterChef Australia has paid tribute to him as “an inspirational and important part of our lives”.

The Glasgow-born chef’s family announced his death on Monday, saying they had lost an “irreplaceable husband, father, brother, son and friend”.

Victoria Police said officers went to an address in Lygon Street in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton where they found a body at about 2am.

The death is not being treated as suspicious.

Sharing a tribute 24 hours after the news broke, TV presenter and chef Andy Allen, 35, referenced their respective families.

He said: “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.

“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.”

Allen, who won MasterChef Australia in 2012 and became a judge in 2020, said he will miss the way Zonfrillo, 46, “mentored” him and the contestants, as well as their mid-morning coffees.

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

“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.”

Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay were among those to express their “shock” and “sadness” at the news on Monday.

On Tuesday, Nigella Lawson tweeted: “I can’t stop thinking about Jock Zonfrillo’s children, his family. So many are plunged into deepest grief.

“My heart goes out to them. And I hope their wishes for privacy are respected.”

The new series of MasterChef Australia was due to air on Australian television on Monday night with Oliver among its celebrity guests.

A statement issued by Network 10 and the programme’s producers Endemol Shine Australia confirmed the show would not be broadcast this week.

Born in Glasgow to an Italian father and Scottish mother, Zonfrillo left school at 15 and started an apprenticeship at The Turnberry Hotel in South Ayrshire before moving on to other high-end kitchens.

He struggled with addiction from his early years after first trying heroin as a teenager and was fired from his job aged 17 after a heated argument.

In his 2021 memoir Last Shot, Zonfrillo charted his journey from “reckless drug addict” to one of Australia’s best-known chefs.

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