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A year without Jock: ‘We were two halves’

It’s been 12 months of milestones and missing the beloved MasterChef Australia judge
Jock ZonfrilloImage: Getty

Without Jock Zonfrillo, the days seem like they’ve been drained of colour, but today is one of pride and celebration,” his wife and widow Lauren bravely shared as she accepted an award for MasterChef Australia at the recent AACTA Awards on the Gold Coast 1 year after his passing.

And it has been a year of tears and triumphs for Jock’s four kids – Ava, 23, and Sophia, 17, his daughters from his first two marriages, plus Alfie, six, and Isla, three, whom he shared with Lauren – as they’ve learned to navigate life without the Scotsman, who filled their days with his huge laugh and even bigger heart.

It was one year ago that MasterChef fans were anticipating the start of a new season, only to be left heartbroken when news broke of Jock’s sudden passing.

The beloved celebrity judge died of natural causes in a Melbourne hotel room aged just 46, with MasterChef producers deciding to air his final season with his family’s consent.

Now, 12 months later, it’s clear that Jock’s memory lives on. Not just through his lifetime of career achievements, but also through his family and friends.

Jock Zonfrillo on MasterChef Australia with Andy Allen and Melissa Leong
The culinary king joined MasterChef Australia with Andy and Melissa Leong in 2019.

On the anniversary of his death, his heartbroken wife Lauren, 46, paid tribute to the cook. She looked back at the final meal she and Jock shared with his fellow MasterChef judge Andy Allen and his wife Alexandra, 33, a few weeks before his passing.

“Our last dinner together before we flew to Rome,” she wrote, referring to their decision to leave Australia and start over in Italy. “I always loved these two, but never more than now.”

Andy, 36, has also movingly shared what a huge influence Jock has had on his life.

“You’ve taught me so much about food, but it’s the lessons I learnt about what it means to be a great father, husband and friend that I’ll take away from our time together,” he wrote. “They will last forever.”

Being a father was Jock’s greatest joy. Lauren has kept fans and friends updated on the progress of their two kids and his daughter Ava, with whom she has a close bond.

And while she’s done her best to step into his shoes, the biggest thing she has struggled with is replicating “the cheekiness that was his parenting superpower”.

A selfie of Jock and wife Lauren
Life without Jock has been tough, but the outpouring of love has helped Lauren.

No doubt a bittersweet moment for Lauren was sending their “wee man” Alfie for his first day of school without Jock by his side. A moment she captured on Instagram.

Equally tough was their first Christmas without Jock. Lauren posted, “Watching our gorgeous children navigating their first Xmas, I can see now that tragedy will make them. It will make them fierce and fearless. They’ll have a strength no one can quite put their finger on. And they will undoubtedly have a life bigger than the one Jock and I dreamt for them because of this.”

But perhaps the hardest part has been grieving the future they won’t be able to have together.

Sharing a touching video montage of their 2017 wedding day, Lauren poured her heart out on social media.

“Our dream of growing old together in the middle of nowhere in Italy is so vivid. Kids and dogs under our feet, you laughing your enormous laugh, falling asleep on your chest. That’s where I imagine you now.”

As she said at his funeral, “We were two halves that found each other at the exact right moment in life when we were ready. We were ready for that big love. To live a life of adventure, to become parents together, to imagine things and to actually make them happen.”

Friends who have become family

Andy and his wife Alexandra have been a huge support to Lauren while the family has grieved Jock.

“When Ava said her eulogy to her dad, she chose Andy to stand by her side. That says a lot about the place he holds,” Lauren says of the chef. He has been a constant pillar of strength for the family during the past year.

Milestones missed

Daughter going overseas

Lauren farewelled Jock’s daughter Ava as she left for London.

Isla’s third birthday

“Our little ones are finding joy again – they are being the happy, cheeky children they always were.”

Alfie’s first day of school

A big moment for every parent, Lauren navigated “legend” Alfie’s first day alone.

Winning the AACTA award

“The kitchen’s not the same without you,” said Andy while collecting the prize for Best Reality Programme.

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