Fellow Masterchef judge, Melissa Leong, has written a heart wrenching tribute to the late Jock Zonfrillo on social media.
Taking to Instagram on Tuesday afternoon, Ms Leong touched on how much Mr Zonfrillo had altered her life after the two, alongside Andy Allen, had replaced the previous judges in 2019.
Mr Zonfrillo,46, was found dead by police at a hotel in Melbourne‘s inner-north at about 2am on Monday.
‘Four years ago, the three of us stood on a precipice and jumped,’ Ms Leong wrote.
‘I could never have guessed how much of an impact your arrival in my life would have, or that we would be saying goodbye to you so soon.’
Masterchef judge, Melissa Leong, has broken her silence on the death of co-star Jock Zonfrillo (both pictured right), writing a wrenching tribute in the wake of his sudden death
Mr Zonfrillo’s death, which came on the same day he was to make promotional appearances for Masterchef’s 15th season, came as a shock to Ms Leong.
‘You were always supposed to be the bulletproof one who outlived us all,’ she wrote.
She then paid tribute to her co-host pushing her to strive for excellence ‘both in the kitchen and outside of it’.
‘Thank you for challenging me daily, for making me better, my work buddy and friend, purveyor of excellent morning coffees, hater of pears, okra and nasturtiums,’ she continued.
‘This all feels too raw too process still, I suspect it will for some time.
‘Such is the impact of a life lived so large, with so much levity and entirely on your own terms.
‘My heart goes out to your family, who were and are your life.
‘A wee dram for you today, and always.’
Mr Allen issued a similar tribute earlier that afternoon, saying ‘When I met you 5 years ago I knew our lives were about to change forever’.
What I didn’t realise is how close Alex [Allen’s wife] and I would become outside of the kitchen with you, Lauren [Zonfrillo’s wife] and your kids,’ Allen wrote.
‘Sure, you’ve taught me so much about food, but it’s the lessons I learnt about what it means to be a great father, husband and friend that I’ll take away from our time together and will last forever.’
The pair, alongside Andy Allen, had taken over as judges of the show in 2019 after the former hosts, Matt Preston, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan had left
Ms Leong took to Instagram (pictured) to say that in the four years since, Mr Zonfrillo had pushed her towards excellence ‘both in the kitchen and outside of it’
Alongside Ms Leong, British chef Jamie Oliver, who is starring as a guest judge on MasterChef this year and recently wrapped filming with Zonfrillo, said he was in ‘total shock’ over the death of his friend.
‘I’m in total shock to wake up to the sudden death of chef Jock Zonfrillo. We had the best time working together for this year’s MasterChef. I can’t tell how good it was to work with him,’ he wrote on Instagram.
‘Jock was very generous to me with his time and spirit in the show and for that I was really grateful.
‘Melissa, Andy and Jock work as the most inspiring judges and mentors and each have their very own unique view and style. Jock will be so very missed.’
No cause of Mr Zonfrillo’s death has been disclosed, but police say his death is not being treated as suspicious. A report will be prepared for the coroner.
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