The unusual accessory MasterChef judge Jock Zonfrillo always kept in his pocket

The entertainment and cookery worlds have been rocked by news of Jock Zonfrillo’s death.

The Scottish host of the Australian version of MasterChef was 46. News of his death was confirmed by his family, who said: “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.”

Nigella Lawson and Gordon Ramsay have led the tributes to Zonfrillo, and many people are remembering stories about the host, one of which is related to an item he carried in his pocket.

Fans noticed that Zonfrillo would play with a small beaded bracelet in many episodes of the cookery competition, and would often ask about the importance of the accessory on social media.

It became a source of mystery for viewers until Zonfrillo one day addressed the “billion messages” he received asking about the bracelet.

Sharing a video on Instagram, the host explained: “These are worry beads. I’ve got lots of different types of worry beads, and when I’m feeling anxious or a little bit stressed, basically, I flick through them like that and the more anxious and more worried you get, the faster I do it.”

Zonfrillo said the beads were given to him by the former partner of late writer AA Gill. He said: “These are very special to me. I love them. They are always in my pocket.”

He told Mamma Mia in 2021 that he would like to normalise the usage of worry beads for those with anxiety, stating: “I think some way of normalising anxiety is a good thing. It’s embarrassing and I don’t want it to be embarrassing.

“It works for me – and if it works for me, hopefully, it can work for some other people as well.”

Lawson paid tribute to Zonfrillo, writing on Instagram: “My deepest, deepest sympathies and much love to Jock’s family and friends. How devastating. How unbearable. My heart goes out to you.”

Jock Zonfrillo with his worry beads on ‘MasterChef’ (Network 10)
Jock Zonfrillo with his worry beads on ‘MasterChef’ (Network 10)

Ramsay said: “Saddened by the devastating news of Jock Zonfrillo’s passing. I truly enjoyed the time we spent together on MasterChef in Australia. Sending all my love to Lauren and the family in this difficult time Gx”.

Meanwhile, Jamie Oliver, who had filmed scenes alongside Zonfrillo on the new season of MasterChef, which is due to begin Tuesday (2 May), wrote: “I’m in total shock to wake up to the sudden death of chef Jock Zonfrillo.

“We had the best time working together for this year’s MasterChef, I can’t tell how good it was to work with him!”