He Rose From Drug Addiction to Top of the Cooking World

Scottish chef Jock Zonfrillo dies at 46 on eve of season premiere of 'MasterChef Australia'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2023 1:45 PM CDT

The 15th season of MasterChef Australia was set to premiere Monday, but that airing of the cooking competition program has since been postponed after its host died over the weekend. Per a statement from Network 10, Jock Zonfrillo died suddenly on Sunday in Melbourne at age 46, reports CNN. Zonfrillo's family confirmed his death in their own statement. No cause of death has been given, but a Victoria Police rep says the Scottish personality's passing isn't being treated as suspicious, per the Guardian. "He was the sharp-suited, beard-carrying MasterChef host who could eat all day," Network 10 reported Monday in its tribute to one of its own.

A Glasgow native, Zonfrillo's teen years were rough, as he fell into doing heroin and soon became addicted to drugs. He started working in the kitchen in the UK with chef Marco Pierre White, who helped him kick his habit, and in 1999 Zonfrillo headed to Australia, where he became head chef at Sydney's Forty One restaurant. He eventually opened his own place, Restaurant Orana in Adelaide, but that eatery shut down for good in late 2020 due to the pandemic. Zonfrillo began his stint on MasterChef in 2019. Jamie Oliver, who was set to star in the series premiere Monday with Zonfrillo, and other celebrity chefs paid homage to him as they heard the news.

"I'm in total shock," Oliver wrote on Instagram on Monday. He added, "We had the best time working together" and called Zonfrillo "very generous to me with his time and spirit." Fellow kitchen ace Gordon Ramsay also paid his condolences. "Saddened by the devastating news of Jock Zonfrillo's passing," Ramsay tweeted. "I truly enjoyed the time we spent together on MasterChef in Australia." Zonfrillo is survived by his wife, Lauren Fried, and four children. In his family's statement, they noted his death "with completely shattered hearts and without knowing how we can possibly move through life without him," per the Guardian. (More MasterChef stories.)

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