Jock Zonfrillo found dead after flying back from family holiday in Italy for ... trends now
Jock Zonfrillo had only just returned from Italy for the launch of the new series of MasterChef when he was found dead aged 46 - just hours before season 15 of Australia's most popular TV show was due to premiere, it emerged today.
The British-born chef reportedly flew home early from Rome, leaving his wife Lauren Fried, and their two young children, Alfie, five, and Isla, two, in the Eternal City.
The highly-anticipated new series of MasterChef Australian was due to air on Australian television tonight with Jamie Oliver among its celebrity guests. Jock himself had posted a teaser on Instagram yesterday.
But the broadcast has been postponed after Victoria Police were called to a hotel on Lygon Street in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton for a 'welfare check' and found Jock dead at around 2am this morning.
The death is not being treated as suspicious - but the cause has not been revealed.
MailOnline understands that Mr Zonfrillo returned to Melbourne in the last few days.
Jock Zonfrillo with his third wife, Lauren Fried, and his two youngest children Alfie and Isla. The family are said to have been in Italy on holiday - and the chef reportedly flew home early, leaving them in Rome, to promote the new series of MasterChef
The new series of the show was due to start Down Under tonight, with Jamie Oliver as the star guest. It has been postponed
Zonfrillo is seen on the left kissing wife Lauren Fried on March 25, 2022. The couple are pictured right at a David Jones event in Melbourne on October 12, 2022
Zonfrillo shared this post on Instagram promoting the new season of MasterChef Australia hours before his death on Sunday
The Daily Telegraph Australia said he had been holidaying with his wife and children in Italy, the country of his father's birth. But left alone, and early, because of his TV commitments.
The publication said the celebrity chef and his loved-ones had flown to Europe after filming for MasterChef ended around a month ago. It is not known if his family are back in the country following his death, aged just 46.
He moved to Melbourne from Adelaide because filming MasterChef in the south Victoria city takes up six months a year.
Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay led the tributes today.
Jock is survived by his third wife, Lauren Fried, and his four children: Ava and Sophia, from his first two marriages, and Alfie and Isla, with Ms Fried.
He became a host of the popular Channel 10 cooking show in 2019 alongside Andy Allen and Melissa Leong, and Junior MasterChef Australia in 2020. His death comes as MasterChef's 15th season, featuring Jamie Oliver as a guest judge, was due to premiere in Australia tonight. The show will not be screened this week in light of his death.
Jamie shared a photo of them together and said: 'In total shock to hear of the sudden death of chef Jock Zonfrillo. Had the best time working with him for this year’s MasterChef Australia. Jock was very generous with his time and spirit in the show and will be so very missed. Sending heart felt love and condolences to all of his family, friends and the MasterChef team and contestants.'
Gordon Ramsay 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'.
The chef, who was born in Glasgow, started working in kitchens aged 13 and later battled heroin addiction and crippling anxiety, trained under Marco Pierre White and moved to Australia in 2000. He famously carried worry beads to help him cope with stress.
He became a huge star Down Under after a life and career of extraordinary ups and downs. He was declared bankrupt in 2007, five years after setting a trainee chef on fire for working too slowly. He built up a number of successful restaurants in Adelaide, with one being named Australia's best four years ago.
But Zonfrillo's acclaimed Restaurant Orana closed in 2020 with debts of millions of Australian dollars. His 2021 memoir Last Shot was criticised, with his mentor Marco Pierre White saying: 'Almost everything he has written about me is untrue.'
MasterChef Australia judge Jock Zonfrillo died in Melbourne today at the age of 46, his family has confirmed
Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver led the tributes today
'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,' his family said
Jock Zonfrillo with Katy Perry on MasterChef Australia
Gordon Ramsay also appeared on the TV hit with fellow Scot, Jock
Jock Zonfrillo in full chef whites aged 15 at Turnberry in Scotland. By 2017, he was the hottest chef in Australia, with his restaurant Orana winning awards across the world
A Victoria Police spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia they found Zonfrillo's body at about 2am on Monday, after being called to an address on Lygon Street in Carlton for a welfare check. A report will be prepared for the coroner.
His family then announced his death, saying in a statement: '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'.
'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.'
They continued: '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.'
Zonfrillo's colleagues on MasterChef did not seem to know he had died as the publicity machine for the new season was still in motion this morning, when Leong posted a countdown clock for the premiere on her Instagram account.
Leong, 41, also did an interview with Hit WA Breakfast at about 8am this morning - after Zonfrillo had passed away but before she was made aware of it - in which she spoke of the pair's close friendship during an appearance to promote the new season of MasterChef.
Zonfrillo, who started his career working under Michelin-starred chef Marco Pierre White in the UK, famously overcame an addiction to heroin during his teenage years in Glasgow before becoming one of Australia's most celebrated chefs.
He once said he owed his life to food, telling an interviewer: 'It saved my life. A lot of my friends from my early days are dead now or in jail.
'The thing about being a junkie is that the only way you can get out is if there's something in your life