New judge was ‘miserable’ on MasterChef set
Jock Zonfrillo has admitted he couldn't wait to finish filming his first season on the MasterChef judging panel - given he hadn't seen his wife and kids in six weeks.
Opening up to WSFM 101.7's Jonesy & Amanda on Tuesday, the Adelaide-based chef said he was "utterly miserable" while forced to stay in Melbourne due to coronavirus.
The 43-year-old dad of three was isolating away from his pregnant third wife Lauren Fried, their two-year-old son Alfie, and his two daughters Ava, 19, and Sophia, 14, from previous relationships, who all live in Adelaide.
With social distancing measures implemented on the show for the first time this week, Jock described the situation as "unusual", but added that he wanted to err on the side of caution given he was still working in the early stages of the pandemic.
"I'm on set with 100 people every day, and we just didn't know," he said of the decision to stay in Melbourne without returning home during filming.
"I know we weren't the only people in that situation … It seemed like the safest thing to do, but I was utterly miserable for six weeks, it was horrible," he admitted.
Given he recently told New Idea he had never been away from his wife for more than a night, it's easy to imagine how it would have been a difficult period.
"I've never been happier to see everybody than when we got to reunite," he told the publication.
Discussing what it was like filming MasterChef as social distancing came into play, he said it felt "very weird".
"There's no high fives, no hugging when somebody leaves or is emotional, and you just want to give someone a hug when they're emotional it's human nature," he said, adding: "I found that very difficult."
On Monday night's episode of MasterChef, Jock announced the social distancing rules to contestants, welcoming them "to a brand new week and a whole new world".
"A lot has changed in recent days due to the coronavirus. None of us have ever experienced anything like this before. But we are all in this together," he said.
Jock, who opened Adelaide fine-dining hotspot Orana in 2013, has been forced to close the restaurant's doors indefinitely amid the pandemic, revealing in March that he had sent his staff on paid annual leave until the business "runs out of money".
"We are sending our team on paid annual leave after service tonight, this will inevitably move into unpaid leave. We will however continue to pay our team until the bank account is drained or we can reopen our doors," he said.
"Other than my three children, Restaurant Orana opening, surviving and thriving is what I am most proud of in my life. I know we have had impact on Indigenous communities, and whether I have a restaurant at the end of this or not who knows."
The Glaswegian chef's second child with Lauren is due in September.
Originally published as Why new judge was 'miserable' on set