Colleagues pay tribute to Jock Zonfrillo as network weighs when to screen his last MasterChef season

Jock Zonfrillo was set to be in The Project on the evening of Monday prior to the start of the 15th season of MasterChef Australia. Instead, his co-hosts at Ten Ten pay tribute to the chef who won awards whose body was found by police early that morning.

The Project host, Sarah Harris, announced the news at around noon. “The promos for MasterChef have been on air for weeks and everyone’s looking forward to this wonderful new season, but it’s more than that, I mean, this is a bloke who had four kids, young children as well, the youngest was two,” Harris stated.

The project’s viewers had grown by more than 300,000 viewers when fans turned on to receive the latest news, leading to an increase to 767,000 across the nation.

Ten employees were informed of the death of the 46-year-old in an all-network email sent by management a few minutes before the information was released at 2.10 pm.

“Network 10 and [production company] Endemol Shine Australia are deeply shocked and saddened at the sudden loss of Jock Zonfrillo, a beloved member of the MasterChef Australia family,” Ten stated. “Jock passed away in Melbourne yesterday.”

With Melissa Leong and Andy Allen, The Scottish-born chef was chosen as a judge in the year 2019 following the first panel of judges Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan, and George Calombaris quit over a pay dispute.

Endemol, as well as Ten, will have to find an additional judge for the season 2024; however, the delicate management of this season that stars an untimely Zonfrillo is an issue that must be addressed.

This entire series has been recorded in Melbourne’s Flemington MasterChef Headquarters, as well as the $250,000 prize has been awarded to an 18-strong contestant. Removing the multimillion-dollar production was not an alternative.

After the end of the Secrets and Surprises series, Zonfrillo was away traveling throughout Europe along with his spouse Lauren and two small children prior to returning to perform promotional work for his show. Zonfrillo is also a father to two grown children.

The new series could air in the next week, but the show will then be edited in time to include tributes.

The network has scheduled its reality series The Bridge to run through until Thursday. MasterChef will air on Sundays through Thursday evenings.

The judges, Leong as well as Allen Leong and Allen, were “devastated and broken” by the passing of Zonfrillo, Ten entertainment reporter Angela Bishop said on The Project.

“They were able to work 14 15hours, 16 hours a day in a row for weeks to finish every Season of MasterChef. There aren’t any more dedicated to friends or confidants as Andy, Jock and Mel,” Bishop said.

“They have been devastated. “Broken” is the word I was told. Like millions of others, struggling to deal with this information.”

“The thing that really stood out to me was that there’s just something about his vulnerability, but it’s something a bit deeper than that, and he’s a guy who’s been through so much,” Aly told me.

Beverley McGarvey, Executive Vice-President at Paramount ANZ – which owns Ten and – said that He was a truly remarkable man. “He was an amazing partner and friend. And we are extremely grateful to have seen him take on such a significant and influential role on MasterChef. Despite his many notable professional achievements, there was nothing that has brought him more joy and satisfaction than his beloved family. Our prayers are with them during this difficult time.”

Ten had been broadcasting shows’ previews for a few weeks. Zonfrillo posted a post on his Instagram the night prior to his death.

“The moment has arrived for @masterchefau’s season to begin an exciting new season that is full of Secrets & Surprises! and @jamieoliver, of course!” he wrote.

Zonfrillo’s remains were discovered by the police around 2 am on Monday at the hotel on Lygon Street, Carlton, after a welfare inspection. Police will write an investigation report to the coroner.

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