Gordon Ramsay has paid tribute to “electrifying” Glasgow-born chef Jock Zonfrillo following his death at the age of 46.
The renowned chef and TV presenter was moved to tears during a special programme honouring the MasterChef Australia host having worked alongside him in the 1990s.
The pair shared a kitchen in London and remained firm friends afterwards, Ramsay said.
Zonfrillo had presented MasterChef since 2019 but the airing of the new series was postponed last week after police discovered his body at his home in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton.
Ramsay, who joined the likes of Marco Pierre White, Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver in paying his respects, told a special episode of The Project on Australian TV station Channel 10: “It’s just a shock, a massive shock.
“He was never done as a chef, he still had years to go.
“Being in the environment together sort of took us back 20 years, there is something quite amazing about two Scots coming together in Australia, it makes you happy at the end of the day.
“There was always something quite encouraging about the s**t we’d gone through to get to where we’d been.”
The new season of the show is due to air on Australian television this evening.
Zonfrillo’s death is not being treated as suspicious, police said.
Oliver, who guest stars on the new series, recalled how he took his now-wife Jules to Zonfrillo’s restaurant on one of their first dates.
“It was me and Jules’ first date weekend and we went there, and there he was, young Jock, 22-years-old, head chef with a beautiful menu and beautiful food,” he said.
“I remember it because it was the first time I remember being spoiled by another chef.”
“We’ve lost a very, very bright star,” Oliver added.
Pierre White, who mentored Zonfrillo as a teenager, remembered his “boundless enthusiasm” and eagerness to learn.
“Jock came to me when he was 17 years old, his enthusiasm was greater than his knowledge, but it was that enthusiasm which drove him, maybe fuelled by his fears of failure, by his insecurities, which I could relate to,” he told the programme.
“Very few chefs have an inquisitive mind, an intellectual mind and a creative mind.
“Originality is only original if you’re the first and Jock was the first at what he did, and people have followed him.
“That’s what makes him special, that’s what makes him rare.”
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