The Story Behind Jock Zonfrillo’s Gift To Brent Draper

On Sunday night, MasterChef contestant Brent Draper made the difficult decision to leave the competition, prioritising his mental health.

As the judges explained the final round of a Pressure Test to a handful of contestants battling for their place in the competition, Brent raised his hand and revealed he was struggling to continue.

“I just can’t get out of my head, it’s just affecting my cook, my sleep. Everything,” Brent told judge Jock Zonfrillo during the episode.

“I don’t want to but I think it’s the only thing… I think I’ve come to the point where all that’s going to help me, getting home, sorting myself out… I’ve just got nothing left.”

After speaking to Jock one-on-one, Brent explained that he felt he needed to leave the competition and return to his wife and son, and sort himself out.

“I’ve just got nothing left,” he admitted.

As Brent and Jock made their way back to the other judges and contestants, Jock handed Brent his worry beads telling the tradie, “Rest your mind”.

MasterChef Australia Brent Jock Worry Beads

Speaking to 10 play following the emotional exit Jock said, “For me, admitting that I am an anxious person was pretty hard.

“Blokes have got this bloke stoicism that says you can’t say you need help or you can’t say you’re struggling, which is ridiculous.”

Since coming on as a full-time judge on the show, Jock’s worry beads have become almost a signature accessory that began to appear more and more in episodes.

Receiving his first worry beads from food writer A. A. Gill, Jock began using them more frequently when he stepped into the MasterChef kitchen for Back To Win.

“My anxiety building up around when I first went on [MasterChef] is really, in my head, thinking there are 100 people on set waiting for me to f**k up,” Jock said. “That was all in my head and that crippled my brain with anxiety to the point where you can hardly talk.

“Using the worry beads, flicking through the beads just smooths your brain, it calms your brain,” he explained.

MasterChef Australia Brent Jock Worry Beads

“At any moment I can have them in my hand and just get back to something that’s real, in my hand. It takes your mind off whatever irrational thought you’re having in that moment.”

When COVID hit, Jock had to close the doors to his award-winning restaurant Orana after seven years, and slowly the worry beads became a regular fixture with the chef.

“Everyone didn’t really know what to think — maybe they were religious or something — but now it’s apparent that it has more to do with controlling anxiety and, for me, it works really, really well,” he said.

During lockdown, Jock said he made over 300 sets of worry beads, using a different set in every episode.

“If you can help somebody normalise something like this that is normally hidden away… being open and normalising something like [anxiety] is a huge step forward for men’s health,” he added.

“These are troubling times… and the massive change that everyone’s inevitably had to go through, it’s been a tough trot for a lot of people and in everyday life, people can see that it’s okay to talk about it.

“It doesn’t mean that you’re weak because you’re holding your hand up and admitting you need help. It’s a good thing.”

If you or anyone you know needs help or would like to speak to someone, contact Beyond Blue on 1800 512 348, or Lifeline on 13 11 14.