Empowering women is a mission close to my heart and the amazing craftswomen and makers on emma & louise are a true testimony to this. There are of course many other areas where women are making their mark and being recognised for their talent and skills. Professional kitchens is one of those areas. The London restaurant scene has been buzzing for many years and female chefs such as Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers of the “River Cafe” have paved the way for future stars. Recently, a few new female pioneers have entered centre stage and I have had the pleasure to dine at their restaurants.
Mère – Monica Galetti
This year, Monica Galetti opened her first restaurant on Charlotte Street with her husband, David. As one of the longstanding judges on Master Chef, Monica needs little introduction. But prior to that, she proved herself by working with Michel Roux Jr at Michelin Starred “Le Gavroche” for sixteen years. “Mère” is here first solo venture and she has succeeded in creating a warm, inviting and very special place. Entering her restaurant, I was immediately drawn to the discreet and tasteful decor. The bar area and restaurant are plush without being ostentatious: petrol blue, cream and light grey set the tone whilst velours and dark wood complete the picture. Samoan artwork adorns the walls. Generous spacing is allowed between the tables, giving more intimacy to the diners. The staff is attentive and knowledgeable, present without being overbearing. The food was divine – a perfect marriage between her Samoan roots and her training in French haute cuisine. The whole experience was a delight and I would go back in a heartbeat.
What makes “Mère” truly special is Monica’s presence. During the course of the evening, Monica walked into the bar area and then the restaurant and, on both occasions, made it a point to stop at each table to greet her patrons and engage with them. This was not a professional call, this was Monica showing her appreciation and inviting her guests into her world. I don’t think that mingling is necessarily Monica’s natural inclination, which makes her presence even more noteworthy. Monica’s generosity and personality are genuine. She has a big heart. Her restaurant is a true manifestation of those qualities.
Finally, “Mère” after all means “Mother”. Monica succeeds in applying the characteristics of a mother – hard work, patience, humility, kindness, perseverance, tolerance, forgiveness, and understanding – to her new restaurant and one cannot walk away without feeling transformed by it.