“I think it’ll be safer for you – and me – if we use a peeler,” says Monica Galetti, as my hands fumble between a baby artichoke and a serrated knife.
Formerly Michel Roux Jr.’s senior sous-chef at the two-Michelin starred Le Gavroche in London, Galetti is best known as a presenter on MasterChef: The Professionals.
She’s made a name for herself on the show for turning so-called ‘pro’ chefs into quivering wrecks, often standing over them – eyebrows contorted in horror – as they fail spectacularly at simple skills tests, their years of training turning to mush as they burn honeycomb, massacre sea urchins and forget to wipe down their work station.
The woman is formidable, her disappointment something you hope to never experience.
So when she takes a knife off you, out of fear for her life and your thumbs (I exaggerate, I hope…), you can’t help but feel a little downcast.
Well, until she returns from fetching the peeler, a huge grin on her face, because, while Galetti is undoubtedly awe-inspiring and thoroughly impressive, she’s not half as intimidating as those crafty MasterChef editors make her out to be.
“Lots of people in industry kitchens use peelers,” she tells me kindly.