MasterChef's Melissa Leong pulls out of major event after Jock Zonfrillo's death
She was supposed to host a talk with Alison Roman next week.
Melissa Leong has withdrawn from a high-profile event at the Sydney Opera House after her friend and MasterChef co-star Jock Zonfrillo died aged 46.
The TV personality was supposed to hold a Q&A with popular American cookbook author Alison Roman on Tuesday, but has since been replaced by MasterChef season two winner Adam Liaw.
Ticketholders were informed of Melissa’s decision on Thursday via email.
“Following the sad news of the passing of her colleague and friend Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong is no longer able to join Alison Roman in conversation on Tuesday, May 9,” the email read.
The visiting food writer is famous for viral recipes such as ‘#TheStew’ and ‘#TheCookies’, and previously worked at highly regarded food publication Bon Appétit and as well as writing a column for New York Times Cooking. She is currently promoting her cookbook Sweet Enough, with the author making appearances in Melbourne and Brisbane before heading to Sydney.
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Jock’s passing was a huge shock to his friends and colleagues after he was sadly found dead at 2am at a hotel alone on Melbourne’s Lyon Street on Monday.
The celebrity chef had returned to Australia to fulfil publicity duties for Channel Ten, with the premiere of MasterChef season 15 due to premiere that same day.
Ten swiftly postponed the start date after his death was discovered, and it was announced on Wednesday that the show will now premiere this Sunday at 7:30pm with the full support of his family.
Melissa Leong’s emotional tribute to Jock Zonfrillo
Melissa’s decision to cancel her public appearance on Tuesday comes after she shared a heart-wrenching tribute to Jock on Instagram.
Alongside an Instagram carousel of snaps with Jock, Melissa penned a statement about the impact Jock had on her life.
Her emotional note read: “Four years ago, the three of us stood on a precipice and jumped. I could never have guessed how much of an impact your arrival in my life would have, or that we would be saying goodbye to you so soon. You were always supposed to be the bulletproof one who outlived us all.
“In that time, you showed me what true excellence looks like both in the kitchen and outside of it; your kindness and generosity, the many lives you’ve lived, the way you carried far more on your shoulders than most could ever know.
“Thank you for challenging me daily, for making me better, my work buddy and friend, purveyor of excellent morning coffees, hater of pears, okra and nasturtiums. This all feels too raw to process still, I suspect it will for some time. Such is the impact of a life lived so large, with so much levity and entirely on your own terms.”
Melissa finished with two short but powerful lines, saying: “My heart goes out to your family, who were and are your life. A wee dram for you today, and always.”
Melissa's final words about Jock
Before Jock’s death was made public, Melissa appeared on HIT WA Breakfast with Allan and Carly on Monday morning to discuss the new season of MasterChef, and ended up gushing about Jock’s wonderful qualities.
When explaining how much food the judges need to taste on set, the star admitted she had stopped trying to match Jock’s appetite.
“I used to be a very competitive eater, especially with Jock — and I learned very quickly not to try and keep up with Jock, because you will lose. He has hollow legs and can eat at a rate, and a volume that defies physics, logic and science,” she joked.
“He will eat all day, off set and on set, whereas I’ve learned that some days when we’re tasting many, many, many dishes, I’ll usually just, that’ll count as lunch for me,” Melissa added.
She then rattled off a number of compliments about her co-star, saying: “This freakishly talented, super lovely, really funny, totally handsome, rocks a three-piece suit like nobody else, and he can eat for days. It’s quite frankly, outrageous.”
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