MasterChef judge Andy Allen pays tribute to friend Jock Zonfrillo ahead of first anniversary of his death

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MasterChef judge Andy Allen has decided to return to popular cooking competition nearly a year after his friend and fellow judge Jock Zonfrillo died.

The 46-year-old died in Melbourne in the early hours of April 30 on the eve of the launch of the 15th season of MasterChef.

Police were called to a hotel on Melbourne’s Lygon Street to perform a welfare check before they made the discovery.

As the one year anniversary of his death approaches, fans were happy to see Mr Allen return to the silver screen in honour of Mr Zonfrillo.

Mr Allen agreed to return after discussing the decision with Mr Zonfrillo’s wife, Lauren Fried, who supported him returning as a judge for the next season, which aired on Monday.

The beloved chef said returning to the MasterChef kitchen without his mate was filled with mixed emotions.

“It’s nearly a year. Sometimes it feels like yesterday and other times it feels like it was a long, long time ago,” Mr Allen told the Carrie and Tommy Show on Monday.

“It was hard. It was really hard. I didn’t actually know if I was going to do it (MasterChef) again.

“It just felt so wrong to do it without him, because we just loved it so much together and walking back into that kitchen was huge.

“My only fear was that I couldn’t do it and I couldn’t be what it needed me to be.”

Mr Allen said while parts of filming where difficult, he knew he was honouring his friend by continuing on in his honour.

“It was … there was just this weight of grief over me,” he said.

“I just didn’t know if I’d be able to get through it.

“I just didn’t know if I’d be able to do it justice, to give the show what it needed because there was so much grief attached to that kitchen.

“But I think it only lasted until … it was a hard first scene.

“I’m literally the only person in that kitchen. Just myself, no contestants.”

“And I just couldn’t tell when it was going to hit me, but the grief just got to me.

“But that kitchen is a special place that as soon as you get in there, as soon as things start happening you just get swept up.

“That for me is a the true significance of what the kitchen is about.

“Grief hit me at times but for 90 per cent of the time I was just in it, I was just there and doing it for him. “

Mr Zonfrillo is survived by his wife Lauren and four children Ava, Sophie, Alfie and Isla.

Victoria Police were preparing a report for the coroner in the wake of the chef’s death.

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