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MasterChef Judge Jock Zonfrillo On Making The Decision To Close His Award-Winning Orana Restaurant

Over the weekend, MasterChef judge Jock Zonfrillo announced that he would be shutting the doors of his award-winning restaurant, Orana.

The Scottish-born chef opened the South Australian restaurant six years ago, with the aim of highlighting the flavour, diversity and importance of Indigenous ingredients.

Orana was voted Australian Restaurant of the Year for the last two years in a row (2019, 2018) but has been forced to shut down for the foreseeable future amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking to 10 daily, Jock explained that the last few days have been tough.

“We don’t know if we’re going to be able to open the doors again, it’s as simple as that,” he said. “We obviously made the decision on Saturday morning ahead of the government’s announcement, knowing that… there was no other way this would go,” he added.

”We know we stand with thousands of other restaurants”.

Jock continued on to say that, while difficult times lay ahead, his main priority was protecting his staff, who he’ll continue to compensate as long as he’s able to.

“We made the decision so we could protect our staff, protect our customers, protect ourselves and our families and make sure that, what money was left in the bank we could pay the staff until such time as the government assistance came,” he told 10 daily.

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“Looking after the staff and their families was the most important thing for me, I wanted to make sure I was able to do that,” he added.

Jock wrote on Instagram on Saturday that his Orana staff have been sent home on paid annual leave “until the bank account is drained or we can reopen our doors”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Sunday evening that restaurants across the nation will only be able to operate in a takeaway capacity as part of new restrictions in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The pandemic has affected MasterChef alumni including Julie Goodwin, Reynold Poermono and Laura Sharrad -- who have all announced that their restaurants will be closing for an unknown amount of time.

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Reynold announced that his Monkey's Corner restaurant will close its doors for the next two weeks, and encouraged diners to order takeaway meals from their Central Park location.

"BUT to be completely honest, due to the ever changing regulations and rapidly increasing #COVID19 cases, we don’t know for sure when we can reopen," a post from Monkey's Corner explained.

MasterChef Season 1 winner Julie Goodwin notified fans that her restaurant in Gosford would also be shutting its doors due to coronavirus, quoting the lyrics of World War II singer Vera Lynn in an Instagram post.

Laura Sharrad, who runs Nido in Adelaide, and is competing on this season of MasterChef: Back To Win alongside Reynold, said she'd also made the difficult decision to shut up shop.

"It breaks my heart to write this, but in the interest of public health and safety, we have decided to close the dining room until further notice," she wrote on Instagram, adding that Nido will be launching a delivery service this week.

MasterChef: Back To Win Premieres On Monday, April 13 at 7.30pm. Only On 10 and WIN Network.