Masterchefs Jock Zonfrillo wore worry beads in mental health struggle

Masterchef Australia legend Jock Zonfrillo – also a best-selling author and proud kilt-wearing Scotsman – revealed that he’d suffered from anxiety and imposter syndrome prior to his sad death.

As a result, the star, who tragically died this week aged 46, carried worry beads with him continuously and would move them around as a form of stress relief.

“When I’m nervous or anxious, my brain would just start racing, like I’m thinking irrationally, so by using the worry beads, it calms that noise in my brain,” he told fans on Instagram.

The star had so many sets of beads by the time of his death that he would coordinate them to match whichever outfit he was wearing at the time.

It all began when his pal Adrian Gill died, and Adrian’s wife Nicola gifted him a set as they grieved together.

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“I had them in my pocket, and then I just started carrying them – I started using them – and I was like, actually this works for me,” he revealed to Australian publication New Idea.

Although the camera never made a point of focusing on the beads, he would even playfully twirl them in his hands as he presented Masterchef.

There was a point when the filming crew became unhappy about the distracting sounds that they could make, but when the Covid lockdown began, his anxiety levels went through the roof, so he struck up a bargain with them.

“It was a troubling time for everybody, and certainly for me, and then I just started having [the beads] in my hand the whole time… the [film crew] allowed me to be me,” he explained.

His pal Sarah Harris opened up further on his relationship with the beads during an episode of TV show The Project.

The tearful friend lifted the lid on the chef’s state of mind behind the scenes, insisting: “He was never without his worry beads.

“I love this about him – despite the fact that he was this kind of manly Scot, and drank whiskey, he [still] knew there was power in vulnerability.”

“He really worked to normalise anxiety, and he said he would keep those beads on him at all times, and pressed the beads when the anxiety got too much,” she continued.

However, what stood out to her most of all was his passion for food and willingness to teach Scottish culture through it.

“He told us once the way to make carbonara without cream. He was very insistent on that,” she reminisced.

Meanwhile, those wishing to keep Jock’s memory alive can catch video excerpts detailing his love of traditionally Scottish drinks like whisky and Irn Bru on his Instagram page.

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