Bibliophile | MasterChef judge Jock Zonfrillo shares his story in ‘Last Shot’

Jock ZOnfrillo

Last Shot
by Jock Zonfrillo
Simon & Schuster

MasterChef Australia judge Jock Zonfrillo admits that he has made every mistake a man can make in “the absolute chaotic fucking hurricane that is [his] life”, and comes to the realisation again and again that if it hadn’t been for his obsessive love of food, he would be behind bars or dead.

It all started when his Scottish hairdresser mother and Italian barber father worked on shops on opposite sides of an arcade, and growing up on the tough streets of Glasgow meant that he was bullied for his mixed race and as well as the exotic ingredients in his lunch box.

He recalls having to fight his way through high school and hating every moment of school. Fortunately his grandparents from both sides had given him a love of food and at his dish-washing job at a local restaurant, he was unexpectedly promoted to preparing vegetables – at the age of twelve.

At that time, you could even buy drugs from ice-cream vans in Glasgow and being knifed was almost a rite of passage. Mixing with older guys, Zonfrillo had all the alcohol and drugs he could want and when he eventually got an apprenticeship, he spent the time after 18 hour shifts getting wasted.

While his personal life was an absolute disaster and his self-destruct mechanism on full thrust, he did manage to navigate his way into kitchens where he could be mentored by the best – including Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsey and David Cavalier. Unfortunately, when he was not trying to create culinary perfection, he was “trying to erase himself from the face of planet earth”.

Zonfrillo takes the reader into the less romantic world of competitive kitchens and also into the nitty-gritty realities of the full-on heroin addiction that took over his life. Eventually, a trip to Australia, inspired by Neighbours and Home and Away, planted the seeds for him to turn his life around.

His achievements in Australia have been incredible, including finding a way to showcase culinary traditions from First Nations people and helping to protect and preserve their cultural heritage. Not that things automatically became smooth sailing, as he admits that if there is a harder way of doing something, he would find it – with a few expletives added.

I was blown away by Zonfrillo’s phenomenal journey in life so far, his raw honesty and his aggressive resilience to pursue his dreams. He shares the lessons he has learned the hard way and dedicates his book to everyone who has felt unworthy. “You are more worthy than you know… it’s just that nobody understands you yet.”

Lezly Herbert

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