These days, Monica Galetti may be known as one of the most fearsome judges on the BBC’s long-running smash hit MasterChef: The Professionals, but aside from her TV career, she is an esteemed chef and restaurateur.
Galetti was born on the picturesque island of Samoa, before moving to Wellington in New Zealand with her family at the age of five. She was one of five siblings and as a teenager, she decided to pursue a career in restaurants, studying for a diploma in hospitality at the Central Institute of Technology.
After completing her studies, Galetti took on the role of chef de partie at a restaurant called Timothy’s in Lower Hutt. The owner there saw her potential and encouraged Galetti to enter cooking competitions in Australia, America and Europe. Galetti was also inspired to start sending out her CV to some of the top restaurants in London, hoping to secure an exciting job in the UK. She eventually heard back from legendary chef Michel Roux Jr, who offered her a position as first commis at his two Michelin starred restaurant Le Gavroche.
Although this position was lower in rank than Galetti’s current job, she accepted the offer and moved her entire life to London in 1999. It wasn’t long before Galetti climbed up the ranks in the capital city though, becoming senior sous chef at Le Gavroche, a position she held until 2015. In 2017, Galetti decided to branch out on her own and opened her debut restaurant called Mere, in partnership with her husband David, the former head sommelier at Le Gavroche who she wed in 2014.
Mere (pronounced ‘Mary’) received critical acclaim and is a popular London haunt. Aside from her cooking career, Galetti has also become a regular fixture on television screens. She has acted as a judge on MasterChef: The Professionals since 2009 and hosts Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond The Lobby alongside restaurant critic Giles Coren.