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Monica Galetti on the joys of home-cooking and her fears for the future of food

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Hannah Keegan
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Monica Galetti

Five Minute Philosopher is a weekly series in which Stylist gets profound with people we love. What will chef and Masterchef judge Monica Galetti make of our existential questions?

What is the meaning of life?

Oh, that’s deep. I’m still figuring it out, maybe ask me in the afterlife – but right now, I think we’re here to do our best and be kind.

What is the difference between right and wrong?

It’s about having a conscience and thinking about the ripple effect of your actions. 

Where is your happy place?

At home in south London with my family and my dogs – a boxer called Fin and a French bulldog called Cole.

Nature or nurture?

I lean towards nurture. I think we’re always going to inherit parts of who we are, but how we’re raised and guided has more importance.

Is it more important to be liked or respected?

Respected. It’s nice to be liked but you might not like them back. And then it doesn’t matter. With my staff, for example, I like them to respect me first – it’s an added bonus if they like me.

If you could be remembered for one thing what would it be?

For being a woman who broke barriers and just went for it. For taking it as far as I possibly could.

Who or what is your greatest love?

My family and my dogs.

When did you last lie?

I try not to, because I think what goes around comes around. But maybe a white lie to my dogs about going for a walk. The only problem is that they remember.

Does the supernatural exist?

I believe in a higher power. I believe there is something out there that keeps us going – and that I’ll see those who I’ve loved and lost again.

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Are you fatalistic?

Yeah. I believe things happen for a reason but I also believe that the choices are ours to make.

What is your greatest fear?

It’s so horrible. I refuse to say it out loud in case it ever happens.

Animals or babies?

Babies. No, animals. Both!

What talent do you yearn for?

I wish I could play the piano. So much so that I tried to get my daughter to learn, but she chucked it in and went for the guitar instead.

Do you like to be complimented?

It’s nice to be complimented, but I find it awkward, too. I like to share it out. If someone says, “You’re amazing”, I say, “Thank you, but I’ve got a great team behind me”.

Do you have a high pain threshold?

I would like to think I do. I can tolerate physical stuff, like a sprained ankle, but I’m not very good with injections. They get me in a panic.

What book do you recommend most to others?

Memoirs Of A Geisha by Arthur Golden. It was given to me by someone very dear almost 20 years ago. The writing is so intricate.

Which lesson has been the hardest to learn?

Patience… especially as a mother. Everything my mum used to say has come to fruition!

Monica Galetti's dream afternoon? Reading Memoirs of a Geisha with Doritos and champagne.

What food sums up happiness?

I love home-cooking. Especially when I go back to New Zealand and my family cooks me something from my childhood, like coconut raw fish.

What have you never understood?

Hate. And how disturbed one must be to [have] such a feeling and then act upon it.

What is the one thing you want to know before you die?

I’d like to know if my daughter and the generations that come after her are going to breathe fresh air and eat clean fish.

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Are you scared of dying or what happens when you die?

I’m not scared of death itself, but I am scared of the way it could happen and the impact it could have on my loved ones.

Quinoa or Quavers?

I don’t really know Quavers. I’d rather have a bag of chilli Doritos. Doritos and champagne!

Monica is a guest judge on MasterChef: The Professionals, starting at 8pm, Tuesday 5 November on BBC Two

Photography: BBC.co.uk

Images: Instagram

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Hannah Keegan

Hannah Keegan is the features writer at Stylist magazine.

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