Since 2008, she has been a judge on Masterchef: The Professionals and presented Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby with Giles Coren since 2017.
Find out about some of Monica's favourite foodie spots in London in this exclusive interview for the Let's Do London campaign.
Where's the first place you’re heading to when indoor hospitality reopens?
I’m really looking forward to getting to Sabor. Nieves is a good friend and I love her style of food. The upstairs, where they do the suckling pig and the octopus, is where I tend to head. I still haven’t eaten downstairs in the no reservations bit. I always go with a group and tend to go when it’s busy, so like to be able to reserve a table.
What other restaurant plans have you made?
I’ve got a friend’s birthday coming up and we’re looking at Kiln. I also love eating there on my own, hiding in the corner. It’s no reservations at the counter, but if you avoid peak times, you can usually get a seat.
Another place that I love is the Oystermen in Covent Garden. I love seafood and it’s such a cool little place. The team is just so friendly and it’s not crazy prices for great quality seafood.
If you go out for breakfast, where do you go?
I recently went to Hide and sat on the terrace overlooking Piccadilly and Green Park.
Where do you go for coffee and what’s your order?
There’s really neat little place across from the restaurant on Charlotte Street called Jova. They do these great little crepes, which my daughter likes. I have a double espresso first thing in the morning when I wake up at home, and then when I get to the restaurant I drop in for a flat white.
What about if you have to grab and go?
On my way to work in the morning, there’s this gorgeous little bakery called Miel. It’s so sweet, it’s just this woman baker and one other. She’s been there for about two years and bakes the most amazing selection of pastries.
Normally, I grab some croissants for myself and the team. It’s such a small little place and I just love to support it. It’s all about the pastries and the bread, she has two tables out the front and does coffee too. It’s great to see that they’ve survived lockdown.
When was the last time you went for afternoon tea?
I go with my daughter – it’s our mother and daughter treat, although my husband gets invited along now and then. She’s 14 and I’ve been taking her out for afternoon tea since she was about six. We love it at Claridge’s, and The Langham does a really fun one for kids.
Best value meal in London?
There’s a little Italian sandwich place and deli, Dino’s, that’s around the corner from us on Charlotte Avenue and it does great sandwiches on ciabatta.
You need to get the timing right, because if you go at peak lunchtime, there are queues of office workers. I have a lot of Italian guys in my kitchen and they get all their treats from home there. It’s a tiny place with maybe two or three tables outside.
Do you have a go-to street food stall?
Just around the corner from us, there are a few street food stalls just off Goodge Street, tucked down a side street. My favourite is the Jamaican one where I get jerk chicken.
What dish have you been craving over lockdown that you couldn’t get delivered or recreate at home?
What have you missed most about restaurants?
It’s just being able to sit down with dear friends and being spoilt, enjoying good food, good company and a great atmosphere. The things we took for granted before all this happened.