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‘MasterChef’ Judges Remember Jock Zonfrillo At AACTA Awards

"A wee dram for you today, and always."
MasterChef Australia judges Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong and Andy Allen, plus producer Marty Benson.

Jock Zonfrillo has been remembered at the 2024 AACTA Awards after MasterChef won its category of Best Reality Series.

Judge Andy Allen took the stage with Jock’s wife, Lauren, with both sharing tributes to the late chef and host.

Andy began saying Jock was “the heart and soul of the MasterChef kitchen”. 

“Mate, I miss you so much, we all miss you so much, the kitchen’s not the same without you,” he said.

Andy then welcomed Lauren to the microphone who shared a brief history of Jock’s career, and also thanked Channel 10 and various members of the MasterChef team for supporting her and her family after Jock’s passing.

In particularly, she thanked Allen.

“When Ava said her eulogy to her dad, she chose Andy to stand by her side. That says a lot about the place he holds.”

“Without Jock, the days seem like they’re drained of colour, but today has been a day of pride,” Lauren signed off.

Zonfrillo wasn’t the only person to receive a posthumous award at the 2024 AACTAs. Comedian Cal Wilson won her category, with her husband and son taking the stage to remember Cal four months after her passing.

MasterChef hosts Andy Allen, Jock Zonfrillo and Melissa Leong. Leong posted this image alongside her tribute to Jock. (Credit: Instagram)

The devastating news of Jock Zonfrillo’s passing rippled through the entertainment industry in April 2023.

The MasterChef Australia judge passed away in Melbourne on April 30, the eve of the competition show’s planned return. With the TV network deciding to hold the season 15 premiere, the MasterChef team took their time to confirm the best way to honour the star chef’s legacy.

The network has since aired the new season, with the new premiere occurring on May 7 at 7:30pm. The Sunday Project also ran a special tribute segment to Jock at 6:30pm, before the the MasterChef season’s return. 

“With contributions from friends he held closely, the show will honour Jock by reflecting on his personal and professional life in a celebration of his incredible achievements,” a statement from 10 announced at the time.

MasterChef Judges Remember Jock Zonfrillo

Jock Zonfrillo died on April 30 at the age of 46, leaving behind his wife Lauren, and four children: Ava, Sophia, Alfie and Isla.

In the days following the news of Jock’s passing, his co-hosts, Melissa Leong and Andy Allen, took to Instagram to share tributes to the celebrity chef.

“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 [Davey, Allen’s wife] and I would become outside of the kitchen with you, Lauren and your kids,” Andy shared alongside behind-the-scenes photos of the pair, including a sweet video of Jock and his son, Alfie.

“You’ve become such an inspirational and important part of our lives. 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.”

Allen remembered Jock as a mentor to both him and the MasterChef contestants, and shared what he’ll miss about his friend.

“I’ll miss you ordering the entire menu no matter how many dishes deep and making me eat every last bite, I’ll miss your morning on-set coffees that made me shake from the amount of caffeine you were able to extract out of every individual bean, I’ll miss the morning FaceTimes with Loz, Alfie and Isla, but overall I’ll miss you looking out for me every single day.

“Thanks for making me constantly laugh and being there when I needed to cry. You really were the complete package mate and life will never be the same without you.”

“Thanks for making me constantly laugh and being there when I needed to cry,” Allen wrote. (Credit: Instagram)

Melissa Leong also shared touching memories with her co-host and friend.

“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. You were always supposed to be the bulletproof one who outlived us all,” she wrote.

“In that time, you showed me what true excellence looks like both in the kitchen and outside of it; your kindness and generosity, the many lives you’ve lived, the way you carried far more on your shoulders than most could ever know.

“This all feels too raw to 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.”

Channel 10 said Jock’s “charisma, wicked sense of humour, generosity, passion and love for food and his family cannot be measured”, and that he would be “greatly missed”.

Leong wrote: “This all feels too raw to process.” (Credit: Instagram)

How ‘MasterChef’ Honoured Jock Zonfrillo

Channel 10 honoured Jock with a special edition of The Project on Sunday, May 7. From 6:30pm it aired a tribute episode with contributions from Jock’s friends, and remembered his personal and professional achievements.

As for the series itself, it has aired more-or-less as planned. While many episodes had already been edited, they were reviewed to ensure the utmost respect was given to Zonfrillo.

“With all episodes already in the vault, they will be watching every episode carefully to ensure there is nothing that will distress viewers and more pertinently, family and close friends,” an inside source told The Daily Telegraph.

“It is not something you can get wrong so they will take their time.”

MasterChef Australia judges Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong and Andy Allen, plus producer Marty Benson. (Credit: Getty)

When Did The New Season Of MasterChef Australia Air?

The new season of MasterChef Australia was delayed by one week, with Channel 10 confirming that it had the “full support of Jock Zonfrillo’s family” for the new release date. 

MasterChef Australia Judge Jock Zonfrillo took great pride in challenging and coaching the contestants and of course inspiring a nation of home cooks,” the network said in a statement.

“It is with Jock in our hearts that we cherish this season and remember the charismatic and big-hearted Judge and Chef who we knew and loved. Jock will be remembered in the MasterChef Australia kitchen for years to come.”

The new season followed a one-hour special on The Sunday Project honouring Jock’s legacy.

When Will The Final Episode Of Masterchef Australia With Jock Zonfrillo Air?

The final episode of MasterChef Australia featuring Jock Zonfrillo aired on Sunday, July 16.

The episode was bittersweet, as contestants Brent Draper and Rhiannon Anderson competed for the title of MasterChef in what was Jock Zonfrillo’s final on-air appearance before his passing.

According to Women’s Day, Network 10 are currently searching for a replacement for the revered judge for the next season, with names like Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, and Shannon Bennet in the mix. 

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