Chef Monica Galetti gives a masterclass to Paula Creamer of the Unites States (L), Shanshan Feng of China (C) and guests in the HSBC Hexagon Suite during the second round of the HSBC Women’s Champions at Sentosa Golf Club on March 4, 2016 in Singapore (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
TV chef Monica Galetti has said she has chosen to step back from her role as a judge on MasterChef: The Professionals for her own mental health after finding she “cannot manage the balance”.
Galetti opened up about her decision in a new interview where she said that, with her personal life, filming and running her own restaurant, things were “just so out of sync”.
This is what you need to know.
Why did Monica Galetti leave MasterChef?
Galetti initially announced her departure from the cooking show in April, having been part of the judging panel for 14 years.
Talking on The One Show, Galetti opened up about her decision to leave.
She said: “I’ve only been able to commit time to the show for three months when my team are strong, and I can have the balance of family, the restaurant and all my other commitments.”
She continued: “When I’m feeling, people don’t realise I do a 12 hour day of filming, and then I will get back to the restaurant in the evening.
“But at the moment, things are just out of sync, things are tough at the moment.
“I’m trying to spend time with my family, I have an ill nephew that I try to get back to see and filming was all starting at the same time.”
Galetti explained that her restaurant, Mere which she owns and runs with her husband David, is understaffed, which contributed to her decision to step down from her role on MasterChef.
She said: “I’m short at the restaurant, I’m here tonight and straight after this I’m back in my kitchen.”
Galetti continued: “I just found I cannot manage the balance this time, and I just knew that something had to give, I think for my own mental health as well.
“It was just getting very dark trying to give 100% to this and 100% to that, and sometimes you just can’t do it all.”
Who is Monica Galetti?
Galetti is a Samoan-born New Zealand chef and in 1999 made the move to London where she worked at Roux’s Michelin starred restaurant Le Gavroche. She left Le Gavroche in 2015 and in 2017 opened Mere, named after her mother.
In the early 1990s, Galetti earned a diploma in hospitality at the Central Institute of Technology in Upper Hutt, a city in the Wellington area of New Zealand.
Talking to the New Zealand Herald in 2011, Galetti said: “A lot of my friends were interested in tourism and travel so I applied for a hospitality diploma, for which you have to spend some time in the kitchen and some time in the front of house.
“As soon as I walked into the kitchen I knew where I belonged and I’ve never looked back since.”
Galetti worked at Lower Hutt restaurant Timothy’s after completing her education and, after being sent out to cooking competitions in Australia, America and across Europe, she started looking for a position with some of the top restaurants in London.
“After a trip to England, I realised that London was where I wanted to be. It really opened my eyes and I wanted to go back and try it for a couple of years,” Galetti said.
Michel Roux Jr was the first to respond to Galetti and, while working for him, she worked up to become head chef at Le Gavroche, a two Michelin starred restaurant.
Galetti joined MasterChef: The Professionals in 2009 as part of the initial line-up, alongside Roux and Gregg Wallace. In 2014, Roux left the show and Marcus Wareing stepped into the position.
She said that she got the role on the show thanks to her relationship with Roux.
Galetti said: “After [Roux] did the first series in 2008, the BBC wanted to extend the programme. But he didn’t have the extra time to film it all so he suggested having someone else overseeing the preliminary rounds.
“He put me forward and I got the part. It was nerve-racking and I didn’t enjoy it at first. I thought Michel was mad to suggest me but he’s always had faith in me when I haven’t.”
Who has replaced Monica Galetti on MasterChef?
It has been announced that Anna Haugh will join MasterChef as a judge, taking over from Galetti.
Talking about the role, Haugh said: “MasterChef has an impeccable reputation and legacy within the hospitality industry.
“I have long admired Monica as an incredible chef and she’s paved the way for female chefs.
“It’s a privilege to be keeping her seat warm in the MasterChef kitchen.”
Haugh is an Irish chef and restaurateur who is no stranger to TV screens, having appeared as a guest judge on the Gordon Rasmey show Hell’s Kitchen in America, on Ready Steady Cook as a chef, as a guest on Sunday Brunch.
She also co-presented two seasons of BBC’s Royal Recipes, alongside Michael Buerk, and in 2020 won an episode of Snackmasters on Channel 4 against Michelin starred chef Aktar Islam.
She regularly appears on Saturday Kitchen as well as being a resident chef on Morning Live.
Haugh trained with the TU Dublin School of Culinary Arts and Food Technology in Dublin before beginning her career at the restaurant L’Ecrivain. From there, she moved to London where she worked with chefs like Philip Howard and Shane Osborn.
She founded the restaurant Myrtle in London in May 2019, named after the Irish Michelin star-winning chef Myrtle Allen.