Food: Monica Galetti has all the skills

In fact, the best word to describe the Samoan-born chef, who grew up in New Zealand, is lovely – and all those aghast faces she pulls on camera? That’s just exasperation at seeing quality produce wasted.

We’re making an artichoke salad with preserved lemon and pickled walnuts from her new book, aptly named The Skills, in which she explains step-by-step – with accompanying photos of each stage – how to behave like an expert chef in the kitchen, from filleting fish and boning pork belly, to making Italian meringue and preparing squid.


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Recipe: Here’s how you can create Monica’s Artichoke Salad with lemon and fennel


Between her TV persona and cookbooks, you’d think Galetti would be a born teacher, but she admits it’s “taken work, I’ve had to slow myself down”.

By slowing herself down, she means making sure she remembers not make the whole dish without thinking, while trying to explain it to a hapless student – in this case, me.

Recalling how she used to prep crates of around 60 artichokes every morning when she started out in the restaurant business, today, Galetti manages to do one on autopilot (“Sorry, I didn’t say what I was doing at all”), before doing another in the same way (“I’ve done it again!”).

As we slice figs and blend ground almonds with butter and sugar for a frangipane tart, she tells me she’s been cooking since she was tiny.

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“Literally, when my ma found out I was a girl, she knew it – she had it made,” Galetti says with a laugh.

“In our culture, the girls learn to cook really early on, it’s your role, and you don’t think anything of it because it’s so natural for us,” she adds, explaining how food and being together is the heart of family life.

“When people visit, it’s really rude not to offer them something to eat, even if it’s a cup of tea and piece of cake – you always have to give them something.”

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