What happened: Chef Jock Zonfrillo condemned viewer Graham Jones for not seeing “past the colour of someone’s skin” and urged him to “be a better human” after Jones sent him a private message criticizing the show on June 24.
“Geez I will be glad when this dumb A*se MasterChef finishes I wouldn’t watch it but sick of while watching 10 other programs having to watch trailers of you and that painful gook criticise what is put in front of you because a pea is in the wrong place half the stuff no one would ever make Geez you are so far up yourselves,” Jones wrote.
Zonfrillo stood up for Leong and exposed Jones’ words in a social media post, warning others that he will not tolerate similar messages in the future.
“She’s actually Melissa, she’s my work wife, my sister, my mate, she drinks espresso like I do, she is able to express and articulate a damn sight better than you can clearly and that is just the beginning Graham,” Zonfrillo wrote. “She’s a woman whose origin happens to be different than yours, but why does that make you so afraid? I feel sorry for you that you cannot see past the colour of someone’s skin or actually the fact they are just different than your White a** in any way.”
Leong, 38, was born in Sydney and is of Singaporean-Chinese heritage. She co-hosted “The Chefs’ Line” with chefs Dan Hong and Mark Olive for two seasons in 2017 and 2018.
The aftermath: Leong expressed gratitude towards her co-judge and received multiple messages of support.
“We have such a long way to go as a nation, if we think racism doesn’t exist. Thank you for being an ally, a friend and an awesome work husband,” Leong responded to Zonfrillo’s post.
British pastry chef Darren Purchese also weighed in, praising Zonfrillo for calling out the racist comment and supporting Leong’s and the team’s hard work.
“When blatant racism tries to stay in the shadows, you get a big torch. Well done @zonfrillo,” Googlebox star Symon Lovett wrote.
Other Instagram users also left encouraging messages to Leong.
“You are all class Mel and the perfect example of what a strong, confident, passionate, educated and fun-loving Aussie girl is,” a user wrote. “You are a breath of fresh air on TV and I just love your passion and knowledge when it comes to food. We need more people like you that celebrates life and people.”
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