Jacqui Way

Chef Jock Zonfrillo has passed away in Melbourne, aged 46.

It’s reported police responded to a welfare check where they found the chef at a property on Lygon Street in Carlton in the earlier hours of Monday morning. His death is not being treated as suspicious.

A statement posted to the chef’s Instagram account yesterday confirmed the devastating loss and reads: “With completely shattered hearts … we are devastated to share that Jock passed away yesterday.

“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.”

Zonfrillo was the force behind acclaimed Orana restaurant in Adelaide, which saw the chef champion the use of Indigenous Australian ingredients and launch The Orana Foundation, which focused on educating the public about Indigenous foods.

The Foundation pioneered the launch of the Indigenous Food Database in 2020, which was created in partnership with The University of Adelaide.

The partnership saw four research projects undertaken all of which revolved around food production, ingredients identification, horticulture, and culinary practices “for the benefit of remote Indigenous communities”.

Orana caught the attention of the global chef community and Zonfrillo was recognised for his contributions to the landscape in 2018 when he was awarded the prestigious Basque Culinary World Prize in 2018.

“I am so honoured to have been selected as the winner of the 2018 Basque Culinary World Prize,” said Zonfrillo. “I would like to thank my restaurant staff, all the Orana Foundation staff, researchers and advisers, and, most importantly, to all the Indigenous Australians who have given their time over the years to share their knowledge.”

The award-winning restaurant secured three hats in 2019 and 2020, before it closed its doors in the same year.

The chef had co-hosted MasterChef Australia alongside Melissa Leong and Andy Allen since 2019, with production company Endemol Shine Australia and Network 10 confirming the show, which was scheduled to premiere last night, will not air this week.

Both local and international culinary figures have taken to social media to pay tribute to Zonfrillo, with Jamie Oliver writing “absolutely devastating. I can’t get my head around this at all it seems unreal”, and Nigella Lawson commenting “how devastating. How unbearable”.

If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available.

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue : 1300 22 4636