My Secret Life: Monica Galetti, chef, 35

My parents were ... very strict when I was younger. They were disciplined with homework, you had to do it straight away, and they were always striving to get the best out of me. Now, I appreciate that; at the time, you just think mum and dad are mean!

The house/flat I grew up in ... I had four brothers and a sister, and there was always a lot of family around, so the house was loud and lively. I'm from an island background; it's all about family.

When I was a child I wanted to ... fly – I was always jumping off the craziest things.

If I could change one thing about myself ... I would be one inch taller. I'm the shortest in the family.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at ... gardening. I have a little garden, and I quite enjoy fiddling about in it. I have a very small veggie patch, and I've been experimenting with growing different flowers – it's taken me three years to know what works!

You wouldn't know it but I'm no good at ... being told I've got a surprise in store. I have to know then and there where I'm going or what I'm doing – I cannot wait.

At night I dream of ... peace and quiet.

I wish I'd never worn ... When I was really young, I thought it was really cool to wear red and yellow bike pants with one red sock and one yellow sock.

What I see when I look in the mirror ... I see someone who's very content with life at the moment.

My favourite item of clothing ... The most precious item I have is my wedding dress.

My house is ... my haven; I can go there and be completely at peace.

My favourite work of art ... is by an artist called Sootaga. He was a New Zealand artist and a good friend of mine, and he was reaching a great part of his career when he had a heart attack at 32 and died. I have a wonderful piece by him – it shows a Samoan Kava bowl leaking coconut milk, and from the side you have a silver fern growing out of the leaking milk. It symbolises losing your culture when you go to a new country and take on a new way of life.

My favourite building ... are the Houses of Parliament at night when they're all lit up.

Movie heaven ... Chocolat, La Vita e Bella - those are my types of film.

A book that changed me ... The Bible. I read it from front to back when I was very young, and after reading it I decided I didn't need to go to church anymore – as long as I had the Bible in the house. And I still feel that, to my parents' horror.

The last album I bought/downloaded ... I downloaded "Short People" by Randy Newman last week. I was remembering an old friend who used to play it to me (hence why I wish I was one inch taller).

My greatest regret ... I try to live my life without regrets, but I guess I regret not travelling a bit more.

My secret crush ... Now that I don't have! But I do think Rafael Nadal is quite sexy.

The person who really makes me laugh ... is my four year old.

The last time I cried ... Last Saturday. A dear friend of mine who I hadn't seen for seven years was in London but between our schedules we only had five hours together. That was quite hard.

My five-year plan ... Ideally, in five years, my husband and I would have a restaurant of our own somewhere quiet, maybe in France or Australia.

My life in six words ... My life is full of surprises.

A life in brief

Monica Galetti was born in Samoa, and raised in New Zealand. She is senior sous chef for Michel Roux Jr at his two-Michelin-starred restaurant Le Gavroche, where she has worked for 10 years, and also appeared this autumn as a judge on Masterchef: The Professionals. She lives in London with her husband David, who is head sommelier at Le Gavroche, and their young daughter, Anais

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