We celebrate today’s Fitzrovian women who have pursued their ambition,to reach the highest levels in their careers and fields.
74 Charlotte Street
Monica is the co-founder and head chef of Mere, and TV presenter. Monica was a senior sous-chef at the prestigious Le Gavroche restaurant in London until 2015. She became a familiar face on TV, after becoming a judge on the BBC competitive cooking programme MasterChef: The Professionals in 2009.
Monica opened Mere restaurant on Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia in 2017, with husband David Galetti, a sommelier. The dishes consist of a blend of classical French cuisine with South Pacific influences. She has published two books, Monica’s Kitchen and The Skills. She juggles work with being a mother of one.
Tell us about your career journey and any highlights
I started cooking in New Zealand and entered a few cooking competitions as well. Travel was always on the cards for me so I made my way to Europe in 1999. I worked around Europe before working with Michel Roux Jr at Le Gavroche. In 2004 my husband and I moved to Mauritius as Head Chef and Restaurant Manager at Le Gavroche de Tropiques. We returned to London and our daughter was born in 2006. Television came along by pure chance and this would be my 12th year as a judge in Professional Masterchef. I’m lucky to also present Amazing Hotels with a great friend Giles Coren. David and I always wanted to open a restaurant eventually of our own and this came true in 2017.
We used to live in the area so we know Fitzrovia really well. Our daughter was also born at UCL down the road. Mere is named after my mother who taught me how to cook at home, drove me to my first job interview and supported my young ambitions of being a Coya chef. She also encouraged me to travel. My husband David and I together combine our experience in hospitality to provide what we feel is excellent food and service in a friendly relaxed environment.
Tell us about a working day for you
A working day varies between what commitments have been pencilled in. Normally I’m up early with my dogs first thing then onto Mere. If I’m filming I’ll do that and then return to Mere in the evenings.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Trust your gut feelings.
What advice would you give to women at an earlier stage in their careers?
Find a kitchen that you can learn in and enjoy your craft.
What woman/women inspire you?
I come from a family of very strong women. We are like a sisterhood and draw strength off each other. I admire women that are strong and are doing what they have dreamt of achieving in life.
What are you still learning, or planning to learn?
To be a good and patient mother.
What are your hobbies?
I enjoy reading but will only pick up a book when I am on holiday and once I start I can read four/five books in a week – it’s when I completely relax or on an aeroplane where no emails can reach me.