MONICA GALETTI
Masterchef
1975

World-renowned chef and founder of top London restaurant Mere

The Samoan-born masterchef moved to New Zealand aged 8, and settled in Wellington with her parents and five siblings.

After studying at the Central Institute of Technology in Upper Hutt, she gained a job in the kitchen at Lower Hutt restaurant, Timothy's.

Restaurant management entered her in cooking contests in Australia, America and Europe, the travel bug struck and Galetti started sending out her CV to top restaurants.

She was eventually hired by Michael Roux Jr in 2003, to work at his two-Michelin-starred restaurant Le Gavroche, initially as a first commis. Promotions came rapidly and she moved up the ranks to senior sous-chef, the first woman to have such a senior chef role there.

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She now runs London's acclaimed Mere restaurant with husband David Galetti and is well known as a judge on the BBC series MasterChef: The Professionals.

In an interview with the Herald in 2011, she said she felt she "belonged" the first time she walked into a commercial kitchen, but opened up on some of the pressures female chefs encounter.

"It's such a hard, male-dominated industry and it's really full on," she said.

"You've got to be able to carry the weight of the heavy pans and you've got a head chef yelling at you when you make a mistake. I find that women have this thing where they hold in their anger and then tear up while men will punch a wall or walk out altogether."