Melissa Leong has spoken about Jock Zonfrillo’s death for the first time – and what she claims will be the last time.
The MasterChef Australia judge talks in this week’s issue Stellar magazine why she has remained silent until now, admitting that she has been criticized for not speaking up when she was normally so open.
“It’s pretty clear that I chose to keep that moment relatively private and I think that’s very important to me,” the 41-year-old said.
“It’s very important to me, as I walk through life, to try to honor what is meaningful to me. And I think what will always be meaningful to me is to take a moment like this and be quiet and be private.”
Melissa explained why she has maintained a dignified silence, adding, “For me, the why is very simple: because it’s not my story to tell.
Melissa Leong has spoken about Jock Zonfrillo’s death for the first time – and what she claims will be the last time. Pictured in Stellar Magazine
“When someone leaves us, it affects so many people, whether it’s someone with a public profile.
“When someone leaves your life, it impacts an entire community of people, and each of them deals with that loss in a different way,” she continued.
“I feel like it’s not constructive to continue expressing the way I feel because it could hinder someone else’s process. And so this is what makes sense to me… to approach this moment in my time with respect and to handle it with care.”
Shortly after Jock’s death, Melissa was clearly deeply affected and canceled her performance at the Sydney Opera House, where she was due to host a live Q&A with American cookbook author Alison Roman.
The MasterChef Australia judge opens up about why she has remained silent until now in this week’s issue of Stellar Magazine, admitting she has been criticized for not speaking up when she is normally so open. Pictured: Melissa with Andy Allen and Jock Zonfrillo
Zonfrillo was found dead by police at a hotel in Melbourne’s inner west at around 2am on Monday, May 1, the same day Channel Ten was due to premiere the fifteenth season of MasterChef Australia.
In the wake of the tragic news, Leong and fellow MasterChef judge Andy Allen pulled out of all media appearances to promote the cooking show’s return.
Leong had paid a heartbreaking tribute to Zonfrillo, expressing her disbelief and sadness over the tragic loss.
In her Instagram post, Leong talked about how much Zonfrillo had changed her life after the two, along with Andy Allen, replaced the previous judges of the popular cooking show in 2019.
“Four years ago, the three of us stood on a precipice and jumped,” Leong wrote.
“I feel like it’s not constructive to continue expressing the way I feel because it could hinder someone else’s process,” she said
“It’s very important to me, as I walk through life, to try to honor what is meaningful to me. And I think it will always be meaningful for me to take a moment like this and be quiet and private,” Melissa added
‘I could never have imagined the impact your arrival would have in my life, or that we would say goodbye to you so soon. You were always meant to be the bulletproof one that outlived us all,” she wrote.
She then paid tribute to her co-host for pushing her to strive for excellence “both in the kitchen and beyond.”
“Thank you for challenging me daily, for making me better, my work buddy and friend, purveyor of excellent morning coffee, hater of pears, okra and nasturtiums,” she continued.
‘This all still feels too raw and too process-oriented, I suspect this will take a while. That is the impact of a life lived so grandly, with so much frivolity and entirely on your own terms.
‘My heart goes out to your family, who was and is your life. A little drink for you, today and always.’
Zonfrillo is survived by his third wife, Lauren Fried, and his four children: adult daughters Ava and Sophia, from his first two marriages, and six-year-old Alfie and two-year-old Isla, with Fried.
Read more in this week’s issue of Stellar Magazine