Why “MasterChef Australia” Judge Jock Zonfrillo Carried “Worry Beads”

masterchef jock zonfrillo worry beads
Instagram / @zonfrillo

If there’s one thing to know about “MasterChef Australia” fans, it’s that they are passionate viewers with an intense eye for detail. So, it was no surprise when viewers were quick to notice judge Jock Zonfrillo’s worry beads when he first joined the show. But what are worry beads, and why did the late “MasterChef Australia” judge always carry them while filming the show?

Zonfrillo passed away suddenly last Sunday, April 30, 2023. It was just one day before “MasterChef Australia: Secrets and Surprises” was set to premiere. When news of his death broke on Monday, May 1, Network Ten pulled the “MasterChef Australia” 2023 premiere from its lineup, replacing it with “The Bridge Australia”.

Later that week, the network announced that “MasterChef Australia” 2023 would premiere on Sunday, May 7, with the full support of Zonfrillo’s family. Immediately preceding the show’s premiere was a special tribute episode of “The Sunday Project”, dedicated to the late chef.

The shocking news of Zonfrillo’s passing had many people tuning in to “MasterChef Australia”, which has sparked new interest in the worry beads Zonfrillo loved. Ahead is everything we know about Jock Zonfrillo’s worry beads.

What Are Worry Beads?

In 2020, Zonfrillo posted an Instagram video explaining what worry beads are, and how they helped him.

“I got a BILLION messages last night asking ‘what are those beads that you’re carrying?'” Zonfrillo said at the time, holding them up. “Here they are, they’re worry beads.”

Why Did Jock Carry Worry Beads?

“When I’m feeling anxious or a little bit stressed… I flick through them… and the more anxious and worried I get, the faster I do it,” he explained.

The “MasterChef Australia” judge went on to say that while he had “lots of different types of worry beads”, the ones that viewers spotted on the show were extra special. This is because they were gifted to him by Nicola Formby, the widow of the late Adrian Gill, who was a famous restaurant critic.

“They were Adrian’s worry beads, so they’re very special to me,” he shared. “I love them. These are always in my pocket.”

Jock Zonfrillo’s Worry Beads

In 2021, Jock Zonfrillo announced that he was releasing his own line of Caim Worry Beads. The company’s Instagram was last updated in November of 2022, and the online store is currently completely out of stock. It is unclear whether Zonfrillo’s line of worry beads will be restocked in the wake of the chef’s death on April 30, 2023.

The History of Worry Beads

Worry beads — or “komboloi” — first originated in Greece, and date back thousands of years. Unlike a rosary, they have no religious or ceremonial ties, but they have plenty of uses.

Many people use them to relax during times of stress, but they’re also believed to guard against bad luck, and, depending on the materials used, as a symbol of power and social prestige. Or, if you’re in Greece on holiday, they also make a great tourist trinket.

How Do Worry Beads Work?

As for how they help with stress, having something physical to hold and fidget with can help ground you in moments of anxiety and overwhelm.

Melbourne-based psychologist Briony Leo told Body + Soul that “having something tactile or sensory to do helps to ground and focus them. They give us something else to focus on and are a systematic, calming, soothing activity,” she explained.

“Often these activities shift our attention away from our thoughts and feelings, and direct our awareness to something else. It doesn’t necessarily solve the source of the stress or anxiety, but it helps us to cope with it in a better way.”

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