The fate of Channel 10’s new MasterChef season will reportedly be placed in the hands of the wife of late judge Jock Zonfrillo following his passing on the weekend.
The 2023 season had been set to air Monday evening but the network announced it would not be airing for at least a week following Zonfrillo’s death in Melbourne on Sunday.
The 46-year-old’s body was found in a hotel on Lygon Street in Carlton by police about 2am on Monday, sending shockwaves throughout the community and leaving his family distraught.
While Channel 10 announced the program would not air any earlier than May 8, an insider has revealed any further decisions on the future on the series were the late chef’s family’s — specifically his wife Lauren Fried — to make.
Jock Zonfrillo and wife Lauren and kids Alfie and Isla. Picture: jockzonfrillo/facebook
“It will really come down to Jock’s family and what they feel he would have wanted,” they told Daily Mail Australia.
The network and sponsors of the program have are understood to be wanting to press ahead with plans to air the series — which is Channel 10’s biggest budget show and flagship reality TV series.
However, it’s understood the call will lay with Zonfrillo’s family, specifically his wife Lauren Fried, with the network and show’s big sponsors determined to respect whatever they choose to do.
“Commercially, and in terms of timing, this is a disaster. It is simply diabolical,” the insider told the Mail. “But not even a major TV network would be ghoulish enough to put anything other than the wishes of Jock’s family first and foremost.”
One possibility is Ten opts to hold this current season until 2024 and air an alternative in its place.
Filming of the latest season finished several weeks ago, with Zonfrillo flying back from his European family holiday early for promotional interviews for the new series.
The network and his family issued a statement after his sudden death.
“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 yesterday,” Jock’s family said in a statement Monday.
“So many words can describe him, so many stories can be told, but at this time we’re too overwhelmed to put them into words.
Jock Zonfrillo and wife Lauren. Picture: jockzonfrillo/facebook
“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.
“We implore you to please let us grieve privately as we find a way to navigate through this and find space on the other side to celebrate our irreplaceable husband, father, brother, son and friend.”
Zonfrillo is survived by his wife Lauren Fried and his four children Ava, Sophie, Alfie and Isla.
Channel 10 paid tribute to the star in a statement of its own.
“Network 10 and Endemol Shine Australia are deeply shocked and saddened at the sudden loss of Jock Zonfrillo, a beloved member of the MasterChef Australia family. Jock passed away in Melbourne yesterday,” the network said.
“Jock was known to Australians as a chef, best-selling author, philanthropist and MasterChef judge but he will be best remembered as a loving father, husband, brother and son.”
Jock Zonfrillo passed away on Sunday. Picture: Eugene Hyland
The renowned chef established himself in Australia as the head chef at Restaurant 41 in Sydney in 2000, before going on to open Restaurant Orana in 2013.
Restaurant Oranaa was named as Restaurant of the Year by Gourmet Traveller in 2018 and by the Good Food Guide in 2019.
He initially worked under renowned Michelin-starred chef Marco Pierre White.
“Zonfrillo climbed his way to the top of the gastronomic ladder only to abdicate his position. He still inspires chefs worldwide,” Mr Pierre White said about Mr Zonfrillo in 2022.
MasterChef judge speaks out on Jock’s deathHow Jock dealt with crippling problem
Mr Zonfrillo grew up in Glasgow to an Italian father and Scottish mother.
He began working in kitchens as a dishwasher part-time at the age of 13 before going on to leave school to start an apprenticeship in the kitchens of the Turnberry Hotel on the west coast of Scotland.