MasterChef Australia Host Jock Zonfrillo Dead At 46

Jock Zonfrillo, MasterChef Australia host and acclaimed restauranteur, has died at the age of 46. According to a statement from Australian broadcaster Network 10, he passed on Sunday in Melbourne. 

Zonfrillo was one of the main judges on MasterChef Australia, alongside cookbook author and food writer Melissa Leong and chef Andy Allen; the series was set to return with a new season on May 1 with UK celebrity chef Jamie Oliver appearing as a special guest. Due to Zonfrillo's death, Network 10 has postponed the premiere without announcing when it will return.

Born Barry Zonfrillo in Glasgow, Scotland to an Italian father and Scottish mother, the chef began working in kitchens at a young age in the UK. Famed chef Marco Pierre White was an early boss and mentor to Zonfrillo. At the same time his star was on the rise, he was dealing with a heroin addiction, which he credits White and his love of cooking with helping him overcome. In 1999, Zonfrillo decamped to Australia where he took the helm of Sydney's Restaurant 41. He went on to open Restaurant Orana, a fine-dining eatery in Adelaide that showcased his unique style focusing on native Australian ingredients.

International condolences

Already memorials and condolences are pouring in from the culinary and entertainment communities around the world. Gordon Ramsay, who appeared on MasterChef Australia as a guest judge in the past, tweeted, "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 Gx."

On Instagram, Jamie Oliver wrote that he was in "total shock" and added that Zonfrillo was "generous with his time and spirit." His family also released a statement noting their "completely shattered hearts" and asking the public to allow them their privacy as they grieve and imploring people to "Keep this proud Scot in your hearts when you have your next whisky."

While Zonfrillo's cause of death has not been released, a police spokesperson confirmed it is not being treated as suspicious, and a coroner's report is underway. Zonfrillo is survived by his wife, Lauren Fried, and his four children.