Masterchef’s Melissa Leong has penned a heartbreaking tribute to Jock Zonfrillo following his tragic death.
Leong took to Instagram on Tuesday afternoon to share how much Zonfrillo had changed her life after the two, along with Andy Allen, replaced previous judges on the hit cooking show in 2019.
Zonfrillo, 46, was found dead by police at about 2am on Monday at a hotel in inner north Melbourne. His cause of death remains unclear.
“Four years ago, the three of us stood on a precipice and jumped,” Leong wrote.
“I never imagined how much of an impact your arrival would have in my life, or that we would say goodbye so soon.”
Masterchef judge, Melissa Leong, has broken her silence on the death of co-star Jock Zonfrillo (both pictured right) by writing a heartbreaking tribute in the wake of his sudden death
Zonfrillo’s death, which occurred on the same day he was scheduled to do promotional appearances for Masterchef’s 15th season, came as a shock to Leong.
“You should always have been the bulletproof person who outlived us all,” she wrote.
She then paid tribute to her co-host who urged 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 feels too raw to process, I suspect it will take a while.
“That’s the impact of a life lived so grandly, with so much frivolity and completely on your own terms.
“My heart goes out to your family, which was and is your life.
“A little glass for you today, and always.”
Allen released 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 realize is how close Alex (Allen’s wife) and I would become outside the kitchen with you, Lauren (Zonfrillo’s wife) and your kids,” Allen wrote.
Sure, you taught me so much about food, but it’s the lessons I learned about what it means to be a great father, husband, and friend that I’ll take from our time together and will stay with me forever. .’
The pair, along with Andy Allen, had taken over the helm of the show in 2019 after former hosts, Matt Preston, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan left
Leong took to Instagram (pictured) to say that in the four years since then, Zonfrillo had pushed her to excellence “both in the kitchen and beyond”
In addition to Leong, British chef Jamie Oliver, who is a guest judge on this year’s MasterChef and recently wrapped up shooting with Zonfrillo, said he was “totally shocked” by his friend’s death.
“I am in utter 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 say how good it was working with him,” he wrote on Instagram.
“Jock was very generous to me with his time and energy on the show and I was very grateful for that.
Melissa, Andy and Jock work as the most inspiring judges and mentors, each with their own unique take on and style. Jock will be missed so much.’
No cause of Zonfrillo’s death has been released, but police say his death is not being treated as suspicious. A report is being prepared for the coroner.
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