MasterChef Australia presenter and award-winning chef Jock Zonfrillo died unexpectedly aged 46 on April 30, 2023. The cause of death was colon cancer, which spreads from the lower digestive tract.
In this article, we will explore how Zonfrillo secretly battled with this disease for years, how his death shocked the culinary world, and what legacy he left behind.
Jock Zonfrillo’s Secret Battle with Cancer
Zonfrillo was diagnosed with colon cancer in May 2020 after enduring stomach discomfort, weight loss, and blood in his stool. He treated his health issues while the Network Ten cookery show wasn’t on, hiding them from friends and coworkers. In his 2021 book Last Shot, he detailed his drug addiction but did not reveal his disease.
In June 2021, Zonfrillo underwent chemotherapy and surgery, hoping to conquer the illness. He even transferred his family to Italy, where his wife Lauren Fried was from, to start again. In early 2023, the cancer returned quickly, forcing Zonfrillo to go back to Australia for the MasterChef season premiere.
Revealed: The Cause of Jock Zonfrillo’s Death
Zonfrillo was found dead at Zagame’s House Hotel in Melbourne when police conducted a welfare check in the early hours of Monday morning. He had checked into the hotel on Friday night, after filming for MasterChef had wrapped up for the week. He was staying in a suite just meters away from his former inner-city home in Carlton.
According to reports, Zonfrillo’s wife Lauren contacted him many times on Sunday night but he didn’t respond. She then notified the police via a Melbourne friend of his. The cops entered the hotel room thinking Zonfrillo had died naturally and discovered nothing untoward. No drug paraphernalia was located in the hotel room.
The cause of Zonfrillo’s death was eventually revealed: intestinal cancer that had spread. The Coroner ruled out foul play and suicide and established cancer as the cause of death.
The Impact of Jock Zonfrillo’s Death
Zonfrillo’s death has sparked an outpouring of grief from figures in the culinary and entertainment world. His family released a heartbreaking statement, saying their hearts were “shattered” by his loss. They also asked people to keep him in their hearts when they have their next whisky, as he was a proud Scot.
Many celebrity chefs and friends paid tribute to Zonfrillo on social media, including Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White, Poh Ling Yeow, and Melissa Leong. They praised his charisma, passion, wicked sense of humor, and talent as a chef and a host. They also expressed their shock and sadness at his sudden death.
Zonfrillo’s death also raised awareness about mental health issues in the culinary industry. He openly talked about his past struggles with drug addiction, depression, and homelessness in his memoir. He said he turned a new leaf with a move to Australia in 2000, where he found love and success. However, he also admitted that he still faced challenges and pressures as a chef and a celebrity.
Final Thoughts on Jock Zonfrillo’s Legacy
Zonfrillo had a successful career in the food industry, working in renowned restaurants around the world before opening his own in Australia. His most famous restaurant was Adelaide’s award-winning Restaurant Orana, which showcased Indigenous Australian ingredients and cuisine. He also founded The Orana Foundation, a non-profit organization that aimed to preserve and promote Indigenous food culture.
Zonfrillo also made a significant contribution to the culinary world through his memoir and his role as a MasterChef host. His memoir was a candid and inspiring account of his life journey, from his humble beginnings in Glasgow to his rise as a star chef in Australia. His role as a MasterChef host brought him fame and popularity among millions of viewers who admired his personality and expertise.
Zonfrillo’s death is a huge loss for the culinary industry and his fans alike. He will be remembered as a talented, passionate, and charismatic chef who inspired a nation of home cooks. He will also be remembered as a loving husband, father, and friend who touched many lives with his kindness and generosity. Rest in peace, Jock Zonfrillo. You will be missed.