Jock Zonfrillo Biography
Jock Zonfrillo (born Barry Zonfrillo) was a Scottish chef and TV presenter based in Melbourne, Australia. He was best known as the founder of The Orana Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving the historical cooking techniques and ingredients of Indigenous Australians, and as one of the judges on the popular cooking show, MasterChef Australia.
Zonfrillo started his culinary career as a dishwasher part-time at the age of 13 while still attending school. He left school at the age of 15 to begin an apprenticeship at The Turnberry Hotel in Scotland. He worked at the Arkle Restaurant in Chester before moving on to work with Marco Pierre White. After working with White, Zonfrillo moved to Australia and worked at Restaurant 41 in Sydney for a year. Upon returning to the UK, he became head chef at The Tresanton Hotel in Cornwall.
Zonfrillo returned to Australia in 2000 to become the head chef at Restaurant 41. In 2013, he opened Restaurant Orana and Street ADL in Adelaide, which he later replaced with Bistro Blackwood in 2017. Restaurant Orana was named Australia’s 2018 Restaurant of the Year by Gourmet Traveller magazine, and Zonfrillo was named Australia’s 2018 Hottest Chef in The Australian. In 2018, Orana was named Australia’s 2019 Restaurant of the Year by The Good Food Guide.
Zonfrillo opened Nonna Mallozzi in December 2018, but it closed in July 2019 after incurring losses of more than $140,000. Bistro Blackwood closed in late 2019, followed by Orana in March 2020. The combined debts amounted to approximately $3.2 million.
In 2019, Zonfrillo was announced as one of the new judges for MasterChef Australia, alongside Melissa Leong and Andy Allen.
In July 2021, Zonfrillo launched Caim, a brand of purportedly handmade bracelets with skulls on them that sold for up to $500 each. He explained that “Caim” is Scottish Gaelic for an “invisible circle of protection that you draw around your body with your hand, to remind you of being safe and loved, even in the darkest times.”
In 2002, Zonfrillo set fire to an apprentice chef in his kitchen for working too slowly, resulting in damages in excess of $75,000 being awarded against him. Later, in May 2007, Zonfrillo was declared bankrupt after a creditor’s petition was successful in the Federal Magistrates Court.
In 2016, Zonfrillo founded The Orana Foundation, which garnered media attention for its mission to preserve historical cooking techniques and ingredients of Indigenous Australians. The foundation was awarded The Good Food Guide Food for Good Award in 2017. However, questions were subsequently raised in the media regarding Zonfrillo’s management of the charity. Zonfrillo launched defamation proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia in September 2020 against Nationwide News relating to an article concerning the Orana Foundation. Nationwide News settled the court case, and an apology was printed in The Australian newspaper on 17 December 2020.
On 5 October 2020, Restaurant Orana and Bistro Blackwood entered into voluntary administration with substantial unpaid debts, amounting to approximately $3.2 million. Zonfrillo also had to sell his family home.
Jock Zonfrillo Cause of Death
Celebrity chef Jock Zonfrillo, known for his appearances on MasterChef Australia and his critically acclaimed restaurant Orana, has passed away at the age of 45. Zonfrillo’s death was confirmed by his family on April 30, 2023, with reports indicating that he had died of a heart attack.
Zonfrillo was born in Scotland in 1978 and began his culinary career at the age of 16, working in various kitchens across the UK. He moved to Australia in 2000 and quickly made a name for himself in the country’s culinary scene. In 2013, he opened Orana in Adelaide, which became renowned for its focus on indigenous ingredients and cooking techniques.
Zonfrillo also appeared as a judge on several seasons of MasterChef Australia and was a regular contributor to various food magazines. He was the recipient of numerous awards throughout his career, including the prestigious Basque Culinary World Prize in 2018.
Following news of his passing, tributes have poured in from across the culinary world, with many highlighting Zonfrillo’s dedication to using indigenous ingredients and his efforts to promote greater understanding of Australia’s culinary traditions.
Zonfrillo is survived by his wife and three children. His passing is a great loss to the culinary world, and he will be deeply missed by all who knew him.
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