Monica Galetti was born in Samoa and raised in New Zealand, where she initially trained. She moved across the world for the chance to work with Michel Roux Jnr at Le Gavroche. She has now been there for 10 years and is senior sous chef to Roux at the two-Michelin-starred restaurant. She has appeared as a judge on MasterChef: The Professionals and written a book, Monica's Kitchen (Quadrille, £20). She is also currently helping raise awareness of the benefits of buying organic for the Organic Naturally Different campaign.
What are your most and least used pieces of kitchen kit?
I absolutely cannot live without my set of kitchen knives – I would be completely lost without them. I also use a griddle pan a lot – it's a really versatile bit of kit which you can use for searing or grilling. My other staple is the large oval Le Creuset dish that my father-in-law bought me – it's always in use. What I never use is a thermometer.
If you had only £10 to spend on food, where would you spend it and on what?
I'm a chocolate fiend, so I would just buy the best dark chocolate available. A close second would be a great quality organic green tea, which I also drink in vast amounts. I always buy organic and love farm shops. Some people think that organic is more expensive, but if you plan wisely, you can make ingredients go further. For example, use the whole chicken – bones for stock, things like that.
What do you eat for comfort?
I'm quite partial to cheese and biscuits with some nice ripe green grapes on the side.
If you could only eat bread or potatoes for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
Bread, without a single doubt, a freshly baked loaf of bread is hard to beat. The smell alone would keep me going.
What's your desert island recipe?
This is a really tricky one but I think I would have to opt for a freshly caught seafood platter. With some chilled champagne to accompany it, of course. It's the perfect dish for when the sun's shining and you're stuck on a desert island.
What's your favourite restaurant?
El Celler de Can Roca in Girona is my absolute favourite restaurant. I admire the Roca brothers and how they have worked together as a family to create that inspiring and unique restaurant. Not only is the food amazing but it has the largest wine cellar, with more than 60,000 bottles.
What's your favourite cookbook?
Another tricky question. I have a huge collection of cookery books, like most chefs. do I regularly revisit Michel Roux Snr's The Collection, particularly for the precise recipes and because the food photography is simply beautiful.
Who taught you to cook?
I have to thank my mum for teaching me the basics of Samoan cooking and starting my culinary journey. And of course Michel Roux Jnr. I've worked with him at Le Gavroche for 10 years and every day I learn something more.