Jock Zonfrillo: Chilling similarities between life and death of MasterChef star and Anthony Bourdain

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Jock Zonfrillo: Chilling similarities between life and death of MasterChef star and Anthony Bourdain

They were both tattooed rock stars of the culinary world who overcame addiction to become celebrity chefs. But Anthony Bourdain and Jock Zon

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They were both tattooed rock stars of the culinary world who overcame addiction to become celebrity chefs. 

But Anthony Bourdain and Jock Zonfrillo, who has died aged 46 leaving behind a wife and four children, were never truly at ease in the spotlight.

The lives – and tragic deaths – of both men bear chilling similarities.

They each died in hotels while working on the job: celebrated New York chef and writer Bourdain was in France filming an episode of his hugely successful CNN travel and food show Parts Unknown when he was found dead in his hotel room. He was 61.

It was later revealed he was struggling with fame and heartbreak in the days leading up to his death.

MasterChef Australia judge Jock Zonfrillo died in Melbourne at the age of 46, his family has confirmed. A Victoria Police spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia they found Zonfrillo's body at about 2am on Monday after they were called to a hotel on Lygon Street in Carlton for a welfare check

MasterChef Australia judge Jock Zonfrillo died in Melbourne at the age of 46, his family has confirmed. A Victoria Police spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia they found Zonfrillo's body at about 2am on Monday after they were called to a hotel on Lygon Street in Carlton for a welfare check

MasterChef Australia judge Jock Zonfrillo died in Melbourne at the age of 46, his family has confirmed. A Victoria Police spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia they found Zonfrillo’s body at about 2am on Monday after they were called to a hotel on Lygon Street in Carlton for a welfare check

The lives - and tragic deaths - of Zonfrillo and Anthony Bourdain (pictured)  bear striking similarities

The lives - and tragic deaths - of Zonfrillo and Anthony Bourdain (pictured)  bear striking similarities

The lives – and tragic deaths – of Zonfrillo and Anthony Bourdain (pictured)  bear striking similarities 

Zonfrillo’s body was discovered by police about 2am on Monday, after they were called to an address – believed to be a hotel – on Lygon Street in Carlton, in Melbourne’s inner-north, for a welfare check.

His death comes as MasterChef’s 15th season, featuring Jamie Oliver as a guest judge, was due to premiere on Ten on Monday night. The show will not be airing this week in light of Zonfrillo’s passing. 

While Bourdain took his own life, police have not yet disclosed a cause of death for Zonfrillo. 

Victoria Police told Daily Mail Australia the situation is not being treated as suspicious. A report will be prepared for the coroner.

Zonfrillo’s autobiography Last Shot was described as a mix of Bourdain’s best-selling memoir Kitchen Confidential and Irvine Welsh’s novel Trainspotting, which follows a group of heroin-addled friends in Edinburgh.

In fact, both chefs were former heroin addicts who battled addiction to find global fame.

Bourdain (pictured) was in France filming an episode of his hugely successful CNN travel and food show Parts Unknown when he was found dead in his hotel room. He was 61

Bourdain (pictured) was in France filming an episode of his hugely successful CNN travel and food show Parts Unknown when he was found dead in his hotel room. He was 61

Bourdain (pictured) was in France filming an episode of his hugely successful CNN travel and food show Parts Unknown when he was found dead in his hotel room. He was 61

Bouth Bourdain and Zonfrillo (pictured, second from left) were huge admirers of chef Marco Pierre White (middle)

Bouth Bourdain and Zonfrillo (pictured, second from left) were huge admirers of chef Marco Pierre White (middle)

Bouth Bourdain and Zonfrillo (pictured, second from left) were huge admirers of chef Marco Pierre White (middle)

Zonfrillo fought a nine-year heroin addiction and took his last hit in the toilets at Heathrow airport in London before boarding a flight to Australia at the turn of the millennium. 

The journey offered him a clean slate to turn his life around and he later became a celebrated chef and TV personality in his adopted country.  

Meanwhile, Bourdain openly talked and wrote about his former heroin use – as well as other class A drugs – while working in a Soho restaurant in New York before he kicked his habit in the 1980s. 

Zonfrillo and Bourdain both shared a reverence for chef and restaurateur Marco Pierre White, with the latter claiming that he ‘gave us all a voice, gave us hope, a new template for survive(al)’.

Scottish-born Zonfrillo, whose real name is Barry, refers to White in his memoir as ‘a father figure’ who ‘saved my life’. 

‘Of all the chefs I worked for, he was the greatest teacher,’ he said. 

In his memoir he writes of being homeless for the first three months of working for White and that when his boss realised he was sleeping in the restaurant he found him accommodation and lent him cash. 

Sarah Harris was moved to tears while remembering Jock Zonfrillo (pictured) after the chef's shock death at age 46. The Project star praised Jock's 'vulnerability' and openness about his struggles with anxiety, which he mitigated by carrying worry beads

Sarah Harris was moved to tears while remembering Jock Zonfrillo (pictured) after the chef's shock death at age 46. The Project star praised Jock's 'vulnerability' and openness about his struggles with anxiety, which he mitigated by carrying worry beads

Zonfrillo famously overcame a heroin addiction as a teenager in Glasgow to become one of Australia’s most famous chefs. He would often wear a kilt on MasterChef in homage to his roots

However, there was controversy following the publication of Last Shot in 2021 when White claimed Zonfrillo had overstated their relationship. 

‘Jock is not a bad man,’ White told Good Weekend. ‘He has a natural intellect and he’s very nice. The only problem is that almost everything he has written about me is untrue.’ 

Each of Bourdain and Zonfrillo’s forearms were heavily tattooed and their ruggedly handsome looks garnered them legions of fans.

Zonfrillo was dubbed ‘Hot Scot’ and ‘Hot Jocklate’ after American singer Katy Perry flirted with him during an episode of MasterChef in 2020. 

Meanwhile, Bourdain had admirers across the globe and was dating Italian film actress Asia Argento at the time of his death. 

Zonfrillo spoke frankly about his battle with anxiety. 

‘I never thought I would have anxiety, let alone admit to it,’ he said.

‘It’s a real working class problem to arrive somewhere and think that you’re not good enough,’ he confessed.

‘For me, I’ve done that my entire life. Every job I’ve got, I’ve felt like I wasn’t good enough to be there.’

Bourdain also opened up about a feeling of imposter syndrome in an interview with Biography.com in 2016 when he questioned the notion of whether he had led a ‘charmed’ existence.

Zonfrillo is survived by his third wife, Lauren Fried, and his four children: teenage daughters Ava and Sophia, from his first two marriages, and six-year-old Alfie and two-year-old Isla, with Fried. (Zonfrillo, Fried and their two children are seen here in a recent family photo)

Zonfrillo is survived by his third wife, Lauren Fried, and his four children: teenage daughters Ava and Sophia, from his first two marriages, and six-year-old Alfie and two-year-old Isla, with Fried. (Zonfrillo, Fried and their two children are seen here in a recent family photo)

Zonfrillo is survived by his third wife, Lauren Fried, and his four children: teenage daughters Ava and Sophia, from his first two marriages, and six-year-old Alfie and two-year-old Isla, with Fried. (Zonfrillo, Fried and their two children are seen here in a recent family photo)

Channel 10 cancels MasterChef after Jock’s death 

Network 10 has announced MasterChef Australia will be postponed following the sudden death of judge Jock Zonfrillo.

The fifteenth season of the cooking show was set to premiere on Monday but Ten has confirmed it will not be airing this week.

The network had high hopes for the latest season, having secured British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver as a fourth judge in a major coup. 

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‘I don’t know about ‘charmed’,’ he said. 

‘But I’m still here — on my third life, or maybe fourth. Who knows? I should’ve died in my 20s. 

‘I became successful in my 40s. I became a dad in my 50s. I feel like I’ve stolen a car — a really nice car — and I keep looking in the rearview mirror for flashing lights. But there’s been nothing yet.’

Zonfrillo revealed he carried a set of worry beads to cope with his mental health condition.

‘When I’m nervous or anxious, my brain would just start racing, like I’m thinking irrationally, so by using the worry beads, it calms that noise in my brain,’ he said.

‘I’ve got a set of worry beads on me all the time, so if they’re not in my hand, they’re in my pocket.’

Bourdain was said to have a two-packet-a-day smoking habit and was said by friends to have anxiety and compulsive disorders.

Oscar-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville, who made a documentary about Bourdain following his death, said the chef had many afflictions he never formally addressed or confronted.

‘He dealt with agoraphobia, shyness, and anxiety. He also had OCD, depression, bipolar episodes, and addictive qualities,’ Mr Neville told Vanity Fair

Zonfrillo is survived by his third wife, Lauren Fried, and his four children: teenage daughters Ava and Sophia, from his first two marriages, and six-year-old Alfie and two-year-old Isla, with Fried. 

The Scot’s family made the devastating announcement on Instagram on Monday afternoon – about 12 hours after officers made the shock discovery.

‘With completely shattered hearts and without knowing how we can possibly move through life without him, we are devastated to share that Jock passed away,’ the statement said.

‘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.’

For confidential support, call Lifeline: 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636 

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