MasterChef's Jock Zonfrillo details mental health battle: ‘I lost a lot’

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MasterChef judge Jock Zonfrillo has opened up about his mental health battle, revealing that food has saved his life.

It comes after contestant Brent Draper’s emotional exit from the cooking competition due to his personal struggles.

MasterChef judge Jock Zonfrillo
Jock says food has saved his life. Photo: Channel 10

Speaking with the Sunday Herald Sun, the Scottish chef explained how Brent’s decision to leave the show reminded him how far he has come in his own mental health journey.

“If it hadn’t been for food I would definitely be behind bars or in a pine box six foot under for sure,’’ he confessed.

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The father of four, who has previously spoken about his recovery from being a drug addict, went on to describe how it took him a while to ‘sort out’ his mental health.

“It wasn’t until I left behind a couple of failed marriages and a breakdown in relationship, friends or otherwise,” he says.

“(I thought) something’s not right here and it’s me. By which time I’d lost a lot - friends and love and marriage and contact with kids. For a lot of people by then it’s too late. You’ve really got to get on top of it early.”

MasterChef judges Andy Allen, Melissa Leong and Jock Zonfrillo.
MasterChef judges Andy Allen, Melissa Leong and Jock Zonfrillo will return for the upcoming Celebrity MasterChef season. Photo: Channel 10.

The 44-year-old also revealed the heartfelt gift that he gave Brent Draper after his shock exit two weeks ago.

During lockdown, Jock made over 400 sets of worry beads which he carries while filming MasterChef to aid his anxiety.

He gifted a set to Brent and is selling the others to raise money for Beyond Blue.

“The thing about hospitality that people probably don’t know is that it’s an industry full of extreme highs and lows,” Jock detailed. “It’s plagued with the potential for bad mental health.”

MasterChef's Brent Draper.
MasterChef's Brent Draper teared up on The Project while explaining why he needed to leave the competition due to his mental health. Photo: Ten

MasterChef contestant suddenly quits

Brent shocked audiences when he decided to quit MasterChef due to his mental health earlier this month, telling the judges he couldn’t go on.

The 31-year-old joined The Project to explain his decision to step back from the show and said that he’s doing much better now.

“I'm doing a lot better than that moment there, I just teared up watching that then,” he told the hosts, after watching the moment he told Jock he “just had nothing left” in him to continue on with the competition.

“I had a passing in the family, my mum had a few health problems before I went, I quarantined twice. The homesickness just hurts,” he admitted.

Mental health support for yourself or a loved one can be found by calling Lifeline on 13 11 14, Mensline on 1300 789 978, or the Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800. Online support is available via Beyond Blue.

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