When Skye Gyngell, acclaimed chef and sister to Channel Nine boss David, quit London's Petersham Nurseries Cafe earlier this year it was because of the ''curse'' of receiving a Michelin star, she said.
''Since we got the star we've been rammed every single day,'' she said in February, ''which is really hard for such a tiny restaurant.''
The pressure was just too much so she was leaving the eatery that had become a favourite of Madonna, Mick Jagger and more with no particular next step in mind. But there was another reason, Gyngell has now revealed - she also had cancer.
Speaking to The Times, Gyngell has revealed her childhood under Australia's harsh sun had left her with melanomas, one growing behind her right eye.
''I'd put it off and put it off, but I had to have it cut out,'' she said, detailing a long operation that left her with 28 stitches. ''I couldn't see. I couldn't balance. In the taxi home with my whole face black and blue, I'd never felt so alone in my life.''
Now recovered, Gyngell is moving back into the kitchen, overseeing operations in a renovated Georgian mansion that aims to be London's next big hotel. Heckfield Place in the Hampshire countryside is due to open early next year with three main restaurants - all supervised by Gyngell - and a fourth in London at an as-yet-undecided location.
''The thing I am best at is cooking in a kitchen,'' she said. ''And I really miss it.''
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