Prue Leith Biography

Prudence Margaret Leith (born 18 February 1940) is a restaurateur, caterer, TV cook, broadcaster and cookery writer. She was born in South Africa, with her working life spent mostly in London, England.

In 1960, Prue Leith started a business supplying high quality business lunches, which grew to become Leith's Good Food, the party and event caterer. In 1969, she opened Leith’s, her famous Michelin starred restaurant. In 1975 she founded Leiths School of Food and Wine which trains amateur and professional chefs. The Leith's group reached a turnover of £15m in 1993, when she sold all but the restaurant which she sold two years later. She has been a cookery editor and food columnist for the Daily Mail, Sunday Express, The Guardian and The Mirror. She is a former director of British Rail, Safeway, Whitbread, Woolworths and the Halifax bank and is currently a non-executive director of Orient Express Hotels Ltd. She has had an active career in charity and not-for-profit businesses, helping to found The British Food Trust (which promotes good food), Focus on Food (which teaches schoolchildren to cook), The Hoxton Apprentice (which trains long term unemployed people to be waiters and chefs), 3Es Enterprises (which turns around failing state schools). She is currently a trustee of Slow Food U.K.,which promotes good, fair, clean food under the international Slow Food movement. She is former Chair of the Board of Governors of Ashridge Management College, the Restaurants Association of Great Britain, the R.S.A. (Royal Society of Arts) and U.K. Skills. As well as many cookery books, including Leith's Cookery Bible, she has written five novels, Leaving Patrick, Sisters, A Lovesome Thing, (all published by Penguin Books). "Choral Society and "A Serving of Scandal" (published by Quercus). From November 2006 to January 2010 Prue Leith was chair of the School Food Trust, the British government's campaign to replace foods high in salt, sugar and fat with freshly cooked, healthy food, a job she described as the most important of her long career.

Leith has received many honours, including the Veuve Cliquot Business Woman of the Year in 1990, and eleven honorary degrees or fellowships from UK universities. She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1989 and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours.

Leith is a judge on the BBC television programme Great British Menu and has been since the series inception in 2006.