We know that Jock Zonfrillo died suddenly. But here's what we do not know.

On May 1, 46-year-old Jock Zonfrillo was found dead at an address on Lygon Street in Melbourne.

A Victoria Police spokesperson said police were responding to a welfare check. When they arrived at the hotel in Carlton, the man was deceased. 

We know the death is not being treated as suspicious. 

That statement is not code for anything. It simply means that police are sure, beyond reasonable doubt, that no crime occurred. 

A report will be prepared for the coroner.

Again, this statement is not code for anything. It means that in the coming days, officers will work to establish a cause of death. 

The family announced the sudden death on Monday afternoon with the following statement: 

"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.

"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.

"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 four children; two teenage girls, a five-year-old son, and a two-year-old daughter. 

Watch: The Story Behind Jock Zonfrillo’s Gift To Brent Draper. Post continues after video.

Video via MasterChef.

While Zonfrillo was a fixture in our living rooms, appearing as a judge on MasterChef since 2019, his face plastered on billboards and banners and ads, especially over the last few weeks, to his family Zonfrillo was a flesh and blood man, a fixture of their everyday lives. 

They knew him in a way we did not, which seems too obvious to even warrant mentioning. Yet while his wife flies home from Rome – along with the two children they share – where the family had been holidaying prior to Zonfrillo’s return to Australia, speculation about the cause of his death is rife. 

To an extent this is understandable. 

Zonfrillo was more than a public figure in the Australian entertainment landscape. Network Ten’s MasterChef is one of the highest-rating programs on Australian television. It is a rare example of family viewing, broadcast into people’s homes at prime time. The chef, author, and television personality, was not an actor. He wasn’t really a performer. Zonfrillo’s job was to be himself. Our sense that we knew him isn’t entirely delusional. In many ways, we did. 


A significant part of his legacy will be the way he spoke about his struggle with addiction and mental illness, famously carrying with him worry beads as a means of self-soothing. He was forthright about his own shortcomings, and vulnerable in a way few men in their forties are. 

Which brings us back to the harm of speculation. 

It is difficult to acknowledge his legacy as an advocate for men’s mental health and a man who spoke candidly about his own struggles – both of which are true, without inadvertently implying that might have had something to do with his death. 

Some media reports, by publications I will not name, have been laden with some pretty clear overtones. Through intentional word choice, some headlines have gone out of their way to imply that Zonfrillo was found on Lygon Street, rather than in a hotel on Lygon Street. 

Some publications have chosen to accompany reports referring to Zonfrillo’s death with a link to Lifeline, Australia’s leading suicide prevention service. There is nothing wrong with such an editorial decision – directing people to Lifeline doesn’t do any harm – but it’s worth clarifying that there is currently no evidence that Zonfrillo died by suicide. 


Human nature is such that people will speculate. When a much-loved man in his forties dies suddenly, it is understandable to ask how. But it is the responsibility of reporters and publications to lead with facts rather than sensationalism. One publication has scrutinised his final post and his final comment on Instagram, describing them as “eerie” and “mysterious”, despite the fact they were simply promotional snippets for MasterChef

Death can challenge our hunger for certainty. For immediacy. For clear answers. Rather than treating Zonfrillo’s death as a conspiracy, it is important to remind ourselves of what we know, and what we do not. 

We know Zonfrillo was found dead by police.

We do not know the cause of death. 

The second fact does not make the first fact any less tragic. It does not change the unimaginable pain being experienced by his family right now.

And perhaps by asking for "privacy", they are requesting that the media do not attempt to provide answers that do not exist yet. 

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Image: Getty + Mamamia.

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