Chefs and celebrities pay tribute to Jock Zonfrillo

MasterChef co-host Andy Allen and chef Gordon Ramsay broke down while speaking of Jock Zonfrillo.

MasterChef co-host Andy Allen and chef Gordon Ramsay broke down while speaking of Jock Zonfrillo. Photo: Channel Ten

MasterChef co-host Andy Allen has spoken for the first time since Jock Zonfrillo’s death, revealing how excited the late chef had been about the upcoming season of the show.

Allen was among a host of chefs and celebrities who paid tribute to Zonfrillo on The Sunday Project ahead of the premiere of MasterChef on Sunday night.

Allen told of sharing what turned out to be his last lunch with Zonfrillo the day before the 46-year-old was found dead in a Melbourne hotel room last Monday.

“We just talked each other’s ear off for three hours…it was so normal. He was in such good spirits,” he told The Sunday Project‘s Sarah Harris.

“He was so excited about the show launching.

“He was so excited about Monday and…he was also so excited to get back over to Rome, he couldn’t wait just to start that with his family,” he said, referring to them moving to Italy.

Allen said he felt “guilty” that Zonfrillo’s wife Lauren Fried and their young children, who were in Rome, had not been the ones with Zonfrillo that day.

“I just wish that it was them sitting there having lunch with Jock. I’d give anything to swap positions,” he said.

Allen said his mate’s death was “still so fresh” and had hit him “like a tonne of bricks”.

“I want to say I’m OK, but…I am not great,” he said.

“He’s just always been there for me, and … I’m just struggling to realise that he’s actually – he’s gone.

“I probably spend more time with him than my wife when we film.

“He was so big on advice – he was that Scottish bloke, hard as nails, drinks whisky but was just a vulnerable person and opens up his emotions.”

Allen said he had spoken to Zonfrillo’s family who “wanted me to say how much they can feel the support for Jock and themselves”.

“They’re hurting but it does help. They’ve been overwhelmed with so much support. They just wanted for me to say they feel it. It’s tough but they feel it.”

Project host Sarah Harris asked if Lauren was OK.

“No, she’s the strongest woman I’ve ever met, but she’s lost her best friend,” Allen said.

Other celebrity chefs who shared tributes included Gordon Ramsay, Curtis Stone, Shannon Bennett, Marco Pierre White, Maggie Beer and Jamie Oliver.

Among the Australian celebrities who spoke were Grace Tame, Rebecca Gibney, Jimmy Barnes and Tommy Little.

An emotional Ramsay choked back tears.

“The ripples have been devastating. No one’s gonna get over this quickly,” he said as he welled up.

“If there’s one thing that we’ve done as chefs is we’ve united and we’re talking about the good times. It’s just so painful.”

Marco Pierre White said Zonfrillo’s memory “would never die”.

“He will live on through everyone he touched … everybody who watches that show, a little piece of him will be still in there. That‘s the truth.”

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