Scottish chef Jock Zonfrillo in San Sebastian, 2018

Scottish chef Jock Zonfrillo in San Sebastian, 2018
IMAGO / Agencia EFE

Chef and TV personality Jock Zonfrillo dies suddenly at the age of 46

The Scottish-born celebrity chef was found dead on Monday, the cause of death is currently unknown but is not being treated as suspicious.

The shock news that Jock Zonfrillo has died unexpectedly aged just 46 has shocked fans in Australia, where he was best known as judge and host of the TV show MasterChef Australia. The news of his death was confirmed by his family in a statement on Instagram, asking the media for privacy while they come to terms with their loss.

The father of four emigrated to Australia in 2000 and became one of the country's best-known restaurateurs, his former eatery Orana in Adelaide considered one of the best in the country. A Victoria Police spokesman told an Australian newspaper that Zonfrillo's body was found at about 2am on Monday after police were called to an address in Carlton, Melbourne to check on a man's welfare.

Zonfrillo’s cooking was considered a tribute to his adopted country’s culinary history, drawing inspiration for his creations from the traditions of the Aborigines. In 2016, he founded a non-profit organisation to preserve the food culture and knowledge of the Australian aborigines.

In 2021, Zonfrillo published his memoir Last Shot, recounting his drug addiction during his years in the UK. Born in Glasgow and raised in Ayr, he started working in kitchens at 12 and at 15 became one of the youngest apprentices ever to work at luxury Scottish resort, The Turnberry Hotel. He was soon working for Michelin-starred chef Marco Pierre White at the Hyde Park Hotel in London, but it wasn’t all plain sailing and he became broke, homeless and addicted to heroin in his teenage years.

Colleagues Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay reacted with dismay. Jamie Oliver wrote on Twitter, “Full of shock to learn of the sudden death of chef Jock Zonfrillo.” He said he and his colleague had the best time being in front of the camera this year.

Robert Prazak
Robert Prazak
Editor Falstaff International
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