Monica Galetti: Why TV limelight gave me panic attacks

Sherna Noah, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent
·3-min read

MasterChef: The Professionals star Monica Galetti says she was unprepared for the limelight when she joined the BBC show – and it gave her panic attacks.

Galetti, 45, became a judge on the programme in 2009 and was dubbed “nasty Monica” by some viewers.

“I just wished they’d come and say it to my face,” Galetti told Desert Island Discs.

“I was just a simple chef, that’s all that mattered to me and then to suddenly end up on television…

“There was no preparation for what would happen once you took part on a TV show, to deal with negative feedback about who you are, what you do, why she has a tattoo on her wrist.

“It was a lot to accept”.

She told the BBC Radio 4 programme she was thrust into a “different world” with the TV show, just as social media had “just taken off”.

“For me, I was just doing a job and perhaps spoke too much in the beginning, the way you did as a chef,” so she “realised” she had to be less direct.

“Did I deal with it? I just stopped watching the show,” she said. “Whenever it was out, it used to give me a panic attack knowing it was happening.”

Galetti stopped watched the programme “because it was associated with a lot of negative feedback”.

“Some nights, when it would come on, I’d jump into bed with my daughter just to shut it out,” she said.

“Eventually you harden up to it and you learn to ignore it. It’s not a real judgment of who I am as a person, a mother, as a chef.”

But Galetti told Lauren Laverne it is “amazing” to be part of the programme, saying the “nurturing” and the “discovering of new talent” brings her great satisfaction.

The chef and restaurateur also spoke about having more women in the industry.

Monica Galetti spoke to Lauren Laverne
Monica Galetti spoke to Lauren Laverne (Dean Chalkley/BBC/PA)

“Nowadays you see much more women in the kitchen… definitely in my own kitchen,” she said.

“I remember there were months when I’d be the only woman in that kitchen. But I think over the years the mentality has changed. It’s OK to ask for help to lift heavy things, instead of trying to be as strong as the guys.

“I know in my kitchen the best way to get the best out of my team is not to shout at them

“Yes, you’re going to lose your temper if something goes wrong. You’re going to shout at the situation,” but she prefers “firing them up as opposed to just constantly belittling… telling them they’re no good.

“Why are you doing that to someone if you want them to be their best?”

She also told the programme how, while working at Le Gavroche in London under the tutelage of Michel Roux Jr, she “trashed Michel’s office, absolutely destroyed Michel’s office” when she received a phone call to say her partner had died in New Zealand.

Desert Island Discs is on BBC Sounds as well as on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday at 11am.