Monica Galetti has admitted that being on MasterChef: The Professionals was ‘taking me to a very dark place’, after her 15-year-old nephew was diagnosed with cancer.
The chef, 46, announced her decision to leave her role as a judge on the BBC show last month, after 14 years on the series.
Speaking to The Times, Monica explained that part of the reason was due to having to juggle the workload with the running of her restaurant Mere, which is struggling from staff shortages.
Sad news: Monica Galetti has admitted that being on MasterChef: The Professionals was ‘taking me to a very dark place’, after her nephew was diagnosed with cancer (pictured together in April)
Yet she revealed that her biggest motive behind quitting MasterChef was to spend time with her family after her nephew, Otis, was diagnosed with desmoplastic small round cell tumour – a rare and aggressive cancer that causes masses in the abdomen.
Otis lives in New Zealand, but Monica said they are very close as he is close in age to her daughter Anaïs, 14, who she shares with husband David.
Otis is currently undergoing chemotherapy, but Monica said: ‘We’re told it’s not a cure. It’s just buying us time’.
Leaving: The chef, 46, announced her decision to leave her role as a judge on the BBC show last month, after 14 years on the series
She revealed that doctors had given him three months, but that they are hoping to get him on a clinical trial, which they are fundraising for.
While the pandemic prevented her from visiting him in New Zealand, she was able to fly out for a week this month.
She said: ‘It was so important to be with my older aunties and uncles. It was just so special to be able to do that. And to spend a bit of time with Otis as well.’
Family time: She revealed that her biggest motive behind quitting MasterChef was to spend time with her family after her 15-year-old nephew, Otis, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called desmoplastic small round cell tumour
While Monica said she ‘hates’ to have had to quit MasterChef, it was the ‘right decision’.
WHAT IS A DESMOPLASTIC SMALL ROUND CELL TUMOUR?
Desmoplastic small round cell tumour occur in adolescents and young adults – but more common in males.
This tumour is malignant and often aggressive with a poor prognosis.
Despite intensive therapy, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy, its 5-year survival rate continues to be less than 15 per cent.
While 3-year survival rates are around 44 per cent.
New therapeutic approaches include molecularly targeted therapies and immunotherapy; the role of these modalities is yet to be defined.
She said: ‘I’m quite relieved because I don’t know how I could manage it now. It was the right decision. It was taking me to a very dark place, not knowing how to balance it all. The stress of it all, the worry of it all.’
In a statement Monica said she was taking a step back from the TV role to focus on her family and her London restaurant.
Monica said in her statement: ‘It is with a heavy heart that I’ve made this decision to step back from filming this year’s series of MasterChef: The Professionals.
‘My family need me, my restaurant needs me and trying to balance long filming days over the next three months with all these commitments meant that something had to give.
‘So, for the moment, my focus has to be 100% about my loved ones and rebuilding my kitchen team who have had a battering over the last few months especially. Those in the hospitality industry know just how tough it is at the moment.
‘To my MasterChef family, crew and friends, I’m so sorry that I won’t be with you this year but I hope to be back soon.’
She continued: ‘Thank you to both BBC and Shine TV for being so understanding of my decision but for this year I’ll be your number one supporter from the side lines.
‘To my fellow judges and friends Marcus and Gregg – I’ll be watching – you’ve got this! If you’re ever unsure just think – what would Mon do?! See you soon!’
Talent: The chef, 46, (right) has been part of the judging trio for the last 14 years, joining first with Michel Roux Jr and Gregg Wallace (centre) and then with Marcus Wareing (left) from 2014
Sarah Clay, Commissioning Editor for Entertainment, said: ‘Monica is a valued member of the MasterChef family, and while we will miss her expertise and invaluable cooking and food knowledge, we fully support her filming break to focus on her family and business. We wish her luck and hope to see her back in the MasterChef kitchen in the future.’
David Ambler, Executive Editor, MasterChef, added: ‘Monica is one of the most talented chefs of her generation, we have worked together closely for the past 14 years and regard her as an integral member of the MasterChef family.
‘Our hope is this situation is just for this season and the door is always open for her to return.’
Busy: In a statement she said she was taking a step back from the TV role to focus on her family and her London restaurant (pictured with husband David at her eatery Mere in Fitzrovia)