MasterChef Australia judge Jock Zonfrillo has passed away at the age of 46, with his family releasing a statement confirming the news on Monday afternoon. His death was sudden, with his co-stars gearing up for the premiere of MasterChef slated to air on Monday evening.
Just hours before Jock’s death was announced, fellow MasterChef judge Melissa Leong was busy promoting the show, unaware of her co-star's death. She shared a selfie with judges Andy Allen, Jock and guest judge Jamie Oliver taken during filming.
“Tonight, we’re back with a brand new pal!” she wrote excitedly, with a countdown to the season 15 premiere air date. Due to the tragic news, Channel 10 has now confirmed that the premiere has been postponed until next week.
The TV host also shared a still from episode one on social media, where the trio of judges look at Jamie Oliver in awe as he addresses the contestants.
“IT’S FINALLY HERE! A BRAND NEW SEASON OF @masterchefau airs TONIGHT!” she captioned the snap. “And just because we don’t do anything by halves, the one and only, blindingly brilliant @jamieoliver is in the house! A banner day for everyone, including little old me.”
Melissa also appeared on HIT WA Breakfast with Allan and Carly earlier on Monday to discuss the new season of MasterChef, and ended up gushing about Jock’s wonderful qualities.
When explaining how much food the judges need to taste on set, the star admitted she has stopped trying to match Jock’s appetite.
“I used to be a very competitive eater, especially with Jock — and I learned very quickly not to try and keep up with Jock, because you will lose. He has hollow legs and can eat at a rate, and a volume that defies physics, logic and science,” she quipped.
“He will eat all day, off set and on set, whereas I’ve learned that some days when we’re tasting many, many, many dishes, I’ll usually just, that’ll count as lunch for me,” Melissa said.
She then rattled off a number of compliments about her co-star, saying: “This freakishly talented, super lovely, really funny, totally handsome, rocks a three-piece suit like nobody else, and he can eat for days. It’s quite frankly, outrageous.”
Jock’s family release devastating statement
Not long after her radio interview aired, Jock’s family shared an emotional statement about his death on Instagram.
“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,” they wrote,
“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.
“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.”
The TV personality is survived by his third wife Lauren and his children Ava, Sophie, Alfie and Isla.
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