Prue Leith

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Prudence Margaret "Prue" Leith, CBE (born 18 February 1940)[1] has been a restaurateur, caterer, television presenter/broadcaster, journalist, cookery writer and novelist. She was born in South Africa, but her working life has been spent mostly in London. She is Chancellor of the Queen Margaret University.

Early life[edit]

Her father Sam worked for African Explosives, a subsidiary of ICI that produced dynamite for use in mines and became a director. From the age of five until she was 17 she attended St Mary's School, Waverley; an English[clarification needed] independent private boarding school for girls in Johannesburg run by Anglican nuns.[2]


In 1960, 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 professional chefs and amateur cooks. The group reached a turnover of £15m in 1993, when she sold all but the restaurant which she sold in 1995. In 1995 she helped found the Prue Leith College, (since renamed Prue Leith Chef's Academy) in South Africa.

She has been a food columnist for the Daily Mail, Sunday Express, The Guardian and The Mirror. Aside from cookery books, including Leith's Cookery Bible, she has written six novels: Leaving Patrick, Sisters, A Lovesome Thing (all published by Penguin Books, Choral Society and A Serving of Scandal (published by Quercus, with "At Giovanni's" due out in Autumn 2015. Her memoir, Relish, was published by Quercus in 2012.

She has held various public service appointments: member of the Leisure "Little Neddy" promoting the hospitality Industry; Chairman of the Restaurateurs Association; member of the National Task Force setting up National Vocational Qualifications; member of the Investors In People working group and part of the Consumer Debt Working Group that contributed to the Conservative Party's 2006 policy document "Breakdown Britain". From November 2006 to January 2010 she 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.[3] She has been a judge on the BBC television programme Great British Menu since the series' inception in 2006.[citation needed] She has been instrumental in the founding and running of many charities, mostly, but not exclusively, to do with food: Focus on Food, working mainly in schools, Let's Get Cooking, a cooking-club schools charity, The British Food Trust, the Food Foundation, and until 2015 was a member of the Food strand of the grant giving foundation, Esmée Fairbairne. She is currently a Patron of Dignity in Dying and a Trustee of the education charity concerned with healthy food for infants, Baby Taste Journey.

In October 2016, she became Chancellor of the Queen Margaret University, succeeding Sir Tom Farmer.[4]


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.[5][6][7]

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.[8]


Prue was married for 38 years to author Rayne Kruger, who died in 2002, aged 80. They had two children, a son and a daughter. The daughter, Li-Da Kruger (a Cambodian adoptee), is a filmmaker. Leith's son, Danny Kruger, left his job as speechwriter and advisor to David Cameron to start an arts charity (Only Connect), working with prisoners and ex-offenders, with his wife, Emma.

Her brother, ex-restaurateur James Leith, is married to author and biographer Penny Junor and the couple's son, Prue's nephew, is the journalist Sam Leith.[citation needed]

In 2009, seven years after the death of her husband, Prue revealed that she was in a romantic relationship with her long-time friend, the businessman and pianist Sir Ernest Hall.The relationship lasted four years.[9]


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