'I was compared to Gordon Ramsay, but that’s a compliment to me anyway, and Simon Cowell of the cooking world!'

The Staff Canteen

Monica Galetti is a successful businesswoman, inspirational and talented chef and thanks to her role on MasterChef: The Professionals, (and subsequent tv programmes) a public figure – but how hard was it to adjust to life in front of the camera, compared to life behind the pass?

Talking on the Grilled podcast alongside co-host, Lisa Goodwin-Allen, she explains the highs and the lows of being a celebrity chef.

“It was the most horrible thing,” explained Monica when asked what it was like adjusting to life in front of a camera. “And Michel’s (Roux Jr) famous last words were, ‘just be yourself and act like you are in our kitchen.’


“I got the part, and then I was compared to Gordon (Ramsay), but that’s a compliment to me anyway, and Simon Cowell of the cooking world! It was because I articulated in a particular way that…. let’s say was best left in the kitchen.

Monica Galtetti and Michel Roux Jr


“Just because you say, ‘if you do that again I’m going to smack you with a chopping board’, doesn’t mean you are actually going to smack someone with a chopping board! So now I say things in a ‘tele friendly’ way!”

Monica, who owns Mere in London, with her husband David, says a big part of working on TV is managing your energy levels.

“You have to bring energy when you are filming and be excited, and then it stops for 20 minutes and you slump and then you’ve got to pick the energy back up again. So, it’s a very different environment to be in. If you are in a kitchen you can be in any mood you want and no one is going to care.”

Being a judge on MasterChef: The professionals 

She has been a judge on MasterChef: The Professionals since 2009 and she says she ‘loves it because she believes in nurturing future talent’.

“Helping them discover who they are, or their style of cooking is so exciting. The majority of the young chefs who come through are already very good they are just trying to find out who they are and what food they want to do. As the journey goes on, you push them at such a rate that they have to pick it up really quick.

“It’s those ones who take on the feedback, that really grow.”

Monica Galetti, Marcus Wareing and Greg Wallace

She added: “For me, I enjoy watching them take this journey on and even afterwards I keep in touch with the majority of the final three and I watch their careers continue – I mean look at Adam Handling! I’m so proud, he’s like a little brother to me and he is such a sweetheart. I watched Adam go through disappointment, ups and downs and I’d always send a message here and there.

Steven Edwards is another one. Sven (Hanson-Britt), sadly his restaurant closed recently but he’s such a talented chef and that was really heartbreaking to hear.”

Monica truly believes she has met some great chefs on the show, and she finds it exciting watching them go on to continue to achieve - and despite her own knowledge and success she says she is always learning from the contestants who come through the MasterChef doors each year.

“It can be an ingredient I’ve never seen or with technology they are bringing equipment I’ve not used – so I’m always asking ‘what does that do?’.

The skills test

One of the most popular elements of the show is the skills test - chefs worry about it and the audience love to watch it.

“I’m so over the skills test,” said Monica. “Can we go back to when I could say ‘can you open three oysters?’.

“It’s 15 years, so they’ve evolved and it’s almost like a recipe! At the end of the day it’s about asking a chef to manage that test in the best way they can. They may not know what it is they are being asked to do but it’s about being professional about it and how they don’t give up. They deliver something, I might ask for a sauce they don’t know but you want to see them not give up and just show us what they can do with what is in front of them.”

Taking a break from filming 

In the last series of the show Monica took a step back from filming and was replaced by Anna Haugh, owner of Myrtle restaurant. At the time it was two weeks before filming began and she felt she needed to be with her family rather than focus on tv. Grateful to Anna for stepping in last minute she also said she was ‘so happy it was a woman!’.

She will be back for 2023 but she discussed why she chose to step back and how everyone is different when they feel overwhelmed by situations.

Monica Galetti and the Mere team - credit Monica Galetti instagram

“You have to be able to manage what is going on and look after yourself,” she said. “That’s very important. I just knew I was at a point where I could not do everything, and I am someone that does everything so it was a tough one to swallow.

“Something had to give and unfortunately it was MasterChef. But it was also the best thing, it felt so good to know I didn’t need to worry about it - it was one less thing, a big thing, that I didn’t worry about.

“Taking that year out made me realise how important it is to keep your circle small and accepting that I can’t help everyone.

“And also, to know it’s alright not to be able to do everything.”

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 25th August 2023

'I was compared to Gordon Ramsay, but that’s a compliment to me anyway, and Simon Cowell of the cooking world!'