The Beautiful Story Behind Jock Zonfrillo’s Worry Beads

MasterChef Australia judge Jock Zonfrillo often carried worry beads while filming the cooking competition series. Fans of the show first noticed the string of beads Zonfrillo held as he mentored the aspiring cooks back in 2020, and they had questions. What were worry beads? Why did Zonfrillo carry them? What purpose did they serve?

This prompted the now-late chef to post a video on Instagram, explaining that they were worry beads which helped soothe his anxiety. The next year, in 2021, Zonfrillo launched his own line of signature worry beads with hand-crafted label, Caim.

In light of Zonfrillo’s shock death last week on May 1, 2023, there has been renewed interest in the beads he loved so much.

Here’s everything we know about Jock Zonfrillo’s worry beads.

What Are Worry Beads?

Worry beads, or as they’re known in Greece “komboloi”, date back thousands of years, according to Greek City Times

They were originally used by monks for prayer, but in modern times, they are used for a plethora of things. Notably, modern-day worry beads aren’t necessarily tied to a religion.

These days, worry beads are primarily used as a self-soothing mechanism. They help the person carrying them manage stress or (as the name suggests) worry.

With that being said, some people believe that worry beads can also guard against bad luck. If nothing else, they also make for a great souvenir for anyone visiting Greece.

Why Did Jock Zonfrillo Use Worry Beads?

In the Instagram video posted in 2020, Zonfrillo said that he would “flick through” the beads any time he was “feeling anxious or a little bit stressed”.

“The more anxious and worried I get, the faster I do it,” he added.

Zonfrillo said that while he owned “lots of different types of worry beads”, the ones that viewers first spotted on MasterChef Australia 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.”


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A post shared by Jock Zonfrillo (@zonfrillo)

Jock Zonfrillo’s Worry Beads

Jock Zonfrillo launched Caim Worry Beads in 2021. Designed and handmade by Zonfrillo himself, Caim was a bespoke collection of worry beads designed to fast track the mind to a state of calm.

The initial launch came in three styles, and each set of limited edition worry beads were made from gemstones and semi-precious stones. For every set of worry beads sold, Caim promised to donate $5 to Beyond Blue.

“Caim is Scottish Gaelic, pronounced kyem. It’s not religious — it’s an invisible circle of protection that you draw around your body with your hand, to remind you of being safe and loved, even in the darkest times,” Zonfrillo said at the time.

In a statement, Zonfrillo said that worry beads had become an “Achilles heel” for him. Not only did he find them soothing, but they reminded him of his late friend, also.

“The more I flicked the beads, the more I found myself comforted by the memory of Adrian, and the less focused I became on whatever was worrying me,” he said.

Jock Zonfrillo Worry Beads: Where to Buy

After Caim’s initial launch, Zonfrillo released several other styles of worry beads, and was thrilled with the response from fans.

“I questioned why it took me so long to use my worry beads openly on MasterChef, and I think it’s because I didn’t really want to announce that my anxiety was constantly bubbling away in the background,” he said in a statement.

“One day though, I thought ‘screw it’, and I’m glad I took them out of my pocket,” he continued. “It was such a relief. The flood of messages and support I got was actually quite overwhelming. Each day people share their experience with anxiety, and the techniques they use as coping mechanisms. This is mine!”

Unfortunately, the Caim Worry Beads online store is currently completely sold out. It’s also unclear whether any of the items will be restocked in the future. The last update on the Caim Worry Beads Instagram was in November 2022.


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A post shared by Jock Zonfrillo (@zonfrillo)

We’ll update this post if we hear of any updates.

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