Jock Zonfrillo was a Scottish-born chef, restaurateur, and TV presenter who made his name in Australia. He is best known for his role as a judge on MasterChef Australia and for founding the Orana Foundation. Orana, his former restaurant, was awarded the prestigious titles of Restaurant of the Year by Gourmet Traveller Magazine and Australia’s Restaurant of the Year by the Good Food Guide. However, it closed its doors in October 2020. Zonfrillo was named Australia’s Hottest Chef in The Australian magazine in 2018, and his nonprofit organization, The Orana Foundation, won the Basque Culinary World Prize in July of the same year. He and his wife Lauren Zonfrillo raised four children together.
Zonfrillo’s career in television began in 2014 when he appeared as a judge and chef in the sixth season of MasterChef Australia. He went on to host the show after season eleven. He started his culinary career at the age of 13 as a dishwasher and part-time cook. His passion for indigenous ingredients and culture led him to found the Orana Foundation, which aimed to preserve and promote the use of native Australian ingredients in cooking. Sadly, he passed away on 30th April 2023 at age 46.
Who are Jock Zonfrillo’s parents?
Jock Zonfrillo, born on August 4, 1976, hailed from Glasgow, Scotland, but was raised in Ayr. His birth name was Barry “Jock” Zonfrillo. His father, Ivan, worked as a barber, and his mother, Sarah, as a hairdresser. His father’s roots are from Scauri, Italy, while his mother’s family is Scottish from Dalmellington, Ayrshire. Jock has a mixed ethnicity and holds Scottish nationality. He had an older sister. As of 2022, he celebrated his 46th birthday, and his zodiac sign was Leo. He practiced Christianity as his religion.
For his education, Zonfrillo attended Belmont Academy in Ayr.
How was the career of Jock Zonfrillo?
- Jock Zonfrillo’s culinary journey began at the age of 12, when he started working as a part-time dishwasher at a restaurant where his older sister was waitressing. He left school at 15 and started an apprenticeship at The Turnberry Hotel, during which he won the Young Scottish Chef of the Year award at just 16 years old. After completing his apprenticeship, he worked at the Arkle Restaurant in Chester, where he was fired after selling drugs to fund his heroin addiction. He then worked for Marco Pierre White, Quaglino’s, and Chapter One before moving to Australia and landing a job at Restaurant 41 in Sydney, where he rose to become sous-chef. Upon returning to London, Zonfrillo worked at Gordon Ramsay’s Aubergine before rejoining White at the Oak Room and Les Saveurs. He was eventually appointed head chef at The Tresanton Hotel in Cornwall at the age of 22.
- Jock immigrated to Australia in the year 2000 and became the head chef of Restaurant 41 where he began incorporating Australian native ingredients into his cooking. However, he was sued by an apprentice chef, Martin Krammer, for setting fire to his pants and causing burns to his hand. Zonfrillo was declared bankrupt in 2007 following a successful creditor’s petition from Krammer. He was fired from Restaurant 41 after the incident and started doing some consultancy work and importing and selling kitchen equipment. Zonfrillo briefly worked at the Austral before being named head chef at Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant in South Australia in 2011, but left after 18 months.
- Jock Zonfrillo, in 2013, opened Orana and Street ADL, which he replaced with Bistro Blackwood in 2017. Orana has received numerous accolades, including being named Australia’s Restaurant of the Year by Gourmet Traveller magazine in 2018 and by The Good Food Guide in 2019. Zonfrillo also ran a fixed food truck called Nonna Mallozzi in 2016 and 2017 and opened a bar called Mallozzi in 2018, which he closed in 2019 due to losses. However, in late 2019, Bistro Blackwood and Orana both closed and in October 2020, the companies that operated the restaurants entered voluntary administration with substantial unpaid debts. There are ongoing investigations into whether the companies were trading while insolvent, unfair preferences, potential breaches of director duties, and concerning related party loans.
- In 2016, Zonfrillo founded The Orana Foundation, which aimed at preserving the historical cooking techniques and ingredients of Indigenous Australians. The foundation’s projects included creating a database of 1,443 Aboriginal food plants in partnership with the University of Adelaide. The foundation received The Good Food Guide Food for Good Award in 2017. However, questions were raised regarding Zonfrillo’s management of the foundation, leading to a defamation case against The Australian, which was settled with an apology printed in December 2020.
- Zonfrillo has been a host and judge on several television shows. In 2014, he hosted the Discovery Channel show Nomad Chef and in 2015, he hosted Restaurant Revolution. In 2016, he co-hosted Chef Exchange with Qu Jianmin. He was also a guest chef on MasterChef Australia for three seasons before being announced as a permanent judge in 2019 alongside Melissa Leong and Andy Allen. In 2020, Zonfrillo was announced as a judge for Junior MasterChef Australia.
- In July 2021, Zonfrillo began selling “worry beads” bracelets with skulls on them for up to $500 each, under the brand Caim.
- His memoir, Last Shot, was published by Simon & Schuster on 28 July 2021. Following this, The Sydney Morning Herald featured an article that raised doubts about some of the stories in the book, including Zonfrillo’s claim of visiting “hundreds of Indigenous communities” and his accounts of drug use. Additionally, Marco Pierre White, who was portrayed as a father figure in the book, stated that “almost everything he has written about me is untrue.” In response, Simon & Schuster defended the book, stating that it was “a historical account written from the personal knowledge of the subject writing it.”
Jock Zonfrillo Awards and Achievements
- 1993 Young Scottish Chef of the Year – The Federation of Chefs Scotland
- 2014 South Australian Best New Restaurant and South Australian Restaurant of the Year – The Advertiser Food Awards
- 2015 South Australian Restaurant of the Year – The Advertiser Food Awards
- 2015 Chef of The Year – Restaurant & Catering Awards
- 2015 and 2016 Australia’s Hot 50 Restaurants – The Australian
- 2017 Hottest Chef & Hottest South Australian Restaurant – The Australian
- 2017 Food for Good Award – The Good Food Guide
- 2018 Australian Restaurant of the Year – Gourmet Traveller magazine
- 2018 Australia’s Hottest Chef – The Australian
- 2018 Australian Food for Good Award – The Good Food Guide
- 2018 Basque Culinary World Prize – Basque Culinary Center
- 2019 Australian Restaurant of the Year – The Good Food Guide.
Who was Jock Zonfrillo married to?
Jock Zonfrillo was married to his wife, Lauren Fried whom he met on Twitter in October 2014. They got married on 1 January 2017. The couple had a son namely Alfie Leopoldo who was born prematurely in February 2018, and a daughter namely Isla born in October 2020. Zonfrillo had two other daughters namely Sofia and Ava from his previous marriages. In March 2020, after the closure of his restaurants, Zonfrillo and his family moved to Melbourne. Prior to his death, the family was living in Carlton and had plans to move to Rome, Italy in 2023.
Zonfrillo passed away in Melbourne on 30 April 2023 at the age of 46. He was survived by his wife Lauren Fried and their two children. The couple had been married for six years at the time of Zonfrillo’s death.
How did Jock Zonfrillo die?
On 30 April 2023, Jock Zonfrillo passed away in Melbourne, Australia at the age of 46. His body was discovered when police were called to Zagame’s House hotel to conduct a welfare check. The cause of death was not immediately confirmed, but police are not treating it as suspicious and are preparing a report for the coroner. The 15th season of MasterChef Australia, which Zonfrillo had already filmed, was supposed to debut on 1 May 2023 but was postponed until 7 May. A special episode of The Sunday Project was broadcast prior to the premiere to reflect on Zonfrillo’s life.
How much was Jock Zonfrillo’s net worth?
Jock Zonfrillo had an estimated net worth of $5 million in 2023, primarily earned through his work as a chef and television personality. According to reports, he, along with Melissa Leong and Andy Allen, earned $500,000 each annually from MasterChef Australia.
Zonfrillo opened two restaurants, Restaurant Orana and Street ADL, in Adelaide in November 2013. Orana was named the restaurant of the year by Gourmet Traveler Magazine four years later. In December 2018, he inaugurated Nonna Mallozzi, a new cafe, but unfortunately, it suffered a $140,000 loss and was shut down in 2019, causing a significant dent in his overall net worth. Despite the financial setbacks, Jock Zonfrillo lived his life to the fullest, pursuing his passion for cooking and sharing his knowledge and skills with others through his various endeavors.
How tall was Jock Zonfrillo?
Jock Zonfrillo was not just a talented chef, but he was also known for his handsome appearance. He had a height of approximately 175 cm (or 5 feet 9 inches) and weighed around 91 kg. His body measurements made him an attractive figure, and he carried himself with a certain confidence and charm.
Zonfrillo’s striking features included his grey eyes and salt-and-pepper hair color, which added to his distinguished and mature appearance. He was often seen sporting a well-groomed beard that complemented his facial structure. Even though he was known for his appearance, his skills as a chef and his contributions to the culinary world were his most significant accomplishments.