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Monika Linton, 52, founded Brindisa in 1988, retailing products from some of Spain’s best food producers. She opened the first Tapas Brindisa restaurant in 2004 and there are now four Brindisa restaurants across London.
What was your earliest ambition?
To be a teacher and have at least six children – those are the two things I can remember.
Public school or state school? University or straight into work?
A Catholic boarding school, New Hall convent in Essex. My parents lived abroad and we had the contrast of being locked away in this school and amazing tropical holidays in Lagos, Singapore, Borneo. My degree was Spanish and Latin American Studies at UCL – my time abroad was in Lima, Peru.
Who was or still is your mentor?
My parents and my grandparents.
How physically fit are you?
I was very fit before I had my two children. I did yoga, horse riding, I played tennis. Daily life has overtaken me but I’m still strong.
Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?
I think it’s courage and determination and optimism: really believing it’s possible to succeed is more than half the battle.
Have you ever taken an IQ test?
No. It seems far too restricting to be measured by something like that.
How politically committed are you?
I find politics frustrating because a solution never seems to be found whichever way you vote.
Do you consider your carbon footprint?
On the business front, we’re looking at ways to improve – packaging, working with rural businesses. At home, we cook from scratch, we recycle, cycle and are keen hikers.
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
It has to be time: time to walk the mountains of the world with my husband Rupert, time for long holidays, time away from the rat race.
Do you have more than one home?
Normally, no, but we’re currently living in our old house while we renovate our new one.
What’s your biggest extravagance?
Food and wine and craft. If you put me in a remote place where there are potters or artisan knife makers I can buy item after item after item.
In what place are you happiest?
Lying on lush grass in the sun looking at clouds – but it needs to be English grass to be lush enough.
What ambitions do you still have?
We’ve just been to Gran Canaria, where we were cheese hunting, and I came back thinking I’d like to become a potter in Gran Canaria.
What drives you on?
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
An obvious one is Brindisa, which started on £1,500 with my brother and a friend.
What has been your greatest disappointment?
To not be living in the country with my children and my husband, surrounded by lots of animals, including goats.
If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would she think?
Learning Spanish at school was a slightly random decision, so maybe, “I never thought a language would take you this far.”
If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?
I’d go to one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in Spain, the Sierra de Francia, and learn how to keep bees and make honey.
Do you believe in assisted suicide?
I believe that peace instead of pain is better.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
I don’t really. But I do believe in ghosts: I believe that people who have gone before us are there and communicate in some form.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
10. I couldn’t wish for more.
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