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Adelaide's Jock Zonfrillo named one of three new MasterChef judges

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Adelaide chef Jock Zonfrillo – owner of the award-winning Orana restaurant and former programming director of Tasting Australia – has been named one of three new judges for  Network 10’s MasterChef Australia in 2020.

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Zonfrillo, who has appeared as a guest chef across three seasons of the reality cooking show, will be joined by fellow new judges Melissa Leong, a food writer and host of SBS show The Chef’s Line, and season four MasterChef winner Andy Allen, a co-owner of the Three Blue Ducks restaurant business.

There has been much speculation about potential replacement judges after Ten axed former hosts Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris at the end of the last season, with other names being suggested including South Australians Maggie Beer and Poh Ling Yeow.

In announcing the new judges today, Carl Fennessy, CEO of show producer Endemol Shine Australia, said he was “thrilled to welcome Jock, Melissa and Andy to the MasterChef Australia family”.

“Jock’s culinary resume across Australia and the United Kingdom puts him in the very elite of contemporary chefs,” he said.

“Melissa’s diverse palate and incredible food knowledge will test our contestants in every way, and Andy brings with him a wealth of experience as a MasterChef Australia winner who’s become one of Australia’s hottest chefs.”

It was revealed last month that Zonfrillo was leaving his role with the Adelaide-based Tasting Australia festival, reportedly to concentrate on his Orana Foundation, which is focussed on shining a light on Indigenous food.

The Scottish-born chef has notched up a string of successes in recent years, including winning the prestigious Basque Culinary World Prize in 2018. As well as his Rundle Street fine-dining restaurant Orana – named Australia’s Restaurant of the Year in the 2018 Good Food Guide awards and awarded three hats again this year – he also owns the more casual Bistro Blackwood and operated a pop-up version of Orana for a month in Sydney earlier this year. Another of his ventures, Italian wine and snack bar Mallozzi, also on Rundle Street, closed in July less than seven months after opening.

“When I think of MasterChef Australia, I think of discovering new talented cooks with fresh ideas and creativity,” Zonfrillo said in a statement issued by Network 10.

“There hasn’t been a season yet where I haven’t been surprised by just how talented some of the undiscovered cooks are, so much so, that many of them have worked in my kitchen over the years.

“I can’t wait to get in that kitchen.”

The 2020 season of the show will be titled MasterChef Australia – Back To Win, with the network saying it will see “the best of the best from the past 11 seasons return to the kitchen”.

“Having watched this group create their own restaurants, their own businesses and become great chefs in their own right has been amazing,” Zonfrillo said.

“But now to see them back, pitting their knowledge against each other in the MasterChef kitchen, sets the stage for the most exciting season yet.”

Filming will begin in Melbourne early next year for the new season, which will also feature guest chefs including Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal and Curtis Stone.

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