EXCLUSIVE: Junior MasterChef Australia judge Jock Zonfrillo on love for Bengali food, Dev & 'hottest chef' tag

In an EXCLUSIVE interview with Pinkvilla, Junior MasterChef Australia Season 3 judge Jock Zonfrillo spoke candidly about his love for Bengali food, how contestants Dev and Filo have the best one-liners and his reaction to the 'hottest chef' tag bestowed upon him.
Jock Zonfrillo revealed to Pinkvilla that he wanted to come to India in 2020EXCLUSIVE: Junior MasterChef Australia judge Jock Zonfrillo on love for Bengali food, Dev & 'hottest chef' tag
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There's just something extremely addictive for a binge-watcher when it comes to the beloved cooking competition MasterChef Australia, especially if you're a fanatic when it comes to delicious-looking food. Moreover, we're now being treated with the return of Junior MasterChef Australia on Disney+ Hotstar Premium, after almost a decade, with Andy Allen, Melissa Leong and Jock Zonfrillo as the judging panel.

We got a chance to have an EXCLUSIVE interaction with Zonfrillo, who was his usual charming self while answering questions. The humble chef loved knowing that there were so many MasterChef Australia fans in India while he also revealed his love for Bengali food as he grew up in Scotland and was quite accustomed to Indian food. We also asked Zonfrillo as to which contestant had the best one-liners in Junior MasterChef Australia Season 3 and the talented chef had a surprising pick.

Here are excerpts from Pinkvilla's EXCLUSIVE interview with Jock Zonfrillo below:

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the shooting of Junior MasterChef Australia Season 3; especially with kids involved?


We had to follow all the government guidelines here in Australia in order to keep safe. We're very proud to say that... we went into our second lockdown here in Melbourne the day that we started filming and we completed filming while we're still on lockdown and we had no transmission, nobody tested positive for COVID-19. It just goes to show that government regulations were not only followed to the letter but that those guidelines actually worked more importantly so. It was like it has been for everyone. It's unusual. It's weird. It's different. It's not what we had hoped for in 2020 but certainly, we were still able to make a fantastic program and we were still able to engage with the children. We just had to do it a bit differently then we were used to. We were still able to have the same epic challenges and fun things on the show that we would have had otherwise. The mystery box is still there. Taste tests are still there. It impacted us to a point but certainly, the whole team around us, which is huge, gathered around in the beginning and said, 'Let's not make COVID turn us into a weird version which is not as good as what it should have been.' So, we all got our thinking caps on and the production team has been fantastic in making sure that the show itself is just as good as it would have been if we weren't in COVID.

Which Junior MasterChef Australia Season 3 contestant do you think has the best one-liners on the show?

I think Filo was hilarious. Very very funny. And Dev, who is from an Indian family, he was the quiet, unassuming one-liner guy. He never did it on camera either, it was always off-camera but he cracked me up all the time. Also, he was so knowledgeable about his culture and his food, Northern Indian cuisine. Not only was he funny and I found him particularly engaging, but he was also full of knowledge about a cuisine that I want to know more about. We had a long conversation of there being 29 different states in India and the different cuisines in India. Long conversations about the difference between Bengali food, and Kashmiri and Punjabi. He was very giving with his time... It's funny, the kids are young but when they're so passionate about their culture of where they're from, it not only shines through but as an adult, you're able to engage with them through food as if they were an adult. He and I had a huge conversation about Rajasthani food, about it being predominantly vegetarian and what that meant in the culture. For me, it just made me want to go to India. I love those conversations. The other one was Filo. Filo was a character. He was hilarious just because, he's this little unassuming guy. He's Egyptian and very proud of his culture. His grandfather was a chef on a cruise liner so he has some of these recipes that he has followed growing up and honestly, hilarious little guy. Brilliant cook as well.

Which has been the best Indian dish you've had that made you go gaga over it?



Big shout out to all the @masterchefau crew, @fooderati & @andyallencooks today for making my birthday a very special one, to all the crew you are amazing. Extra extra thanks to my executive wardrobe specialists @charmainedepasquale_stylist @megcuda for not only always making me the smartest dressed Scotsman but for making my bothy into a little birthday party for one COVID style! @maurzmoriarty9 & Davey for always making me smile even on my birthday! Also to @fooderati for arranging this absolutely AAAAMMAAZZZIINNG Banh mi Pâté en Croûte made by @genghiskhanh from @sunda_dining - Hhhowww gooood!???!! It was absolutely delicious! Thanks to everybody for the birthday wishes, I feel the love big time!

A post shared by Jock Zonfrillo (@zonfrillo) on

In Scotland, there was a lot of Bengali food. There's a huge Indian culture in Scotland. We had a fair amount of Indian food growing up. For me, Bengali food, just generally, the five spices of Bengali food: fenugreek and mustard and cumin... Honestly, for me, it was those flavours which I am borderline addicted to and I find it hard to go past some of those dishes when I see them on the menu. Even here in Melbourne, it's one of those things for me that I find it hard to go past that. That would definitely be one of my favourites.

Is India on your wishlist of countries to visit for its culture and cuisine?

2020 was the year that I was going to go and come to India. And, we were talking about coming for months because I don't want to come there for two weeks and not see anything. I want to come there and really get stuck in all the different states. Can I visit 29 states in four months? Maybe. I would need a pretty good tour guide. I think I could do it. Are four months enough or do I need to give six? Cuisine and culture deserves time and for me, that's something I want to give... it's what I'm passionate about and what I live for. When it happens, I'm not going to underbake it in terms of time, that's for sure. I need a good guide though so I might call you, maybe you'll be able to help.

You've been bestowed with the tag of 'hottest chef'; what is your reaction to that?

My body temperature runs a lot hotter than the other guys. I'm always much colder on set than everyone else. So, that's about all I've got to say to that. (laughs) I think Andy's [Allen] a hell of a good-looking guy.

We can't wait to host you, Mr. Zonfrillo!

ALSO READ: Farah Khan puts her chef hat on as she joins Junior MasterChef Australia fever with her kids acting as judges

Who has been your favourite contestant on Junior MasterChef Australia Season 3? Share your pick with Pinkvilla in the comments section below.

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Anonymous 1 month ago

Good show Had to believe the knack

Anonymous 1 month ago

Great show. Judges are very encouraging and caring with the juniors. They are all amazing cooks and are all winners in my eyes.

Anonymous 1 month ago

The whole show is a winner. I love the warmth and caring of the judges. They bring out the best in the amazingly talented young contestents in a fun atmosphere.

Anonymous 1 month ago

Dev is very promising he cooks with his heart very calm and a well natured boy and i hope he wins the competition# Junior Master Chef Australia is a treat to watch with such young talents #