Prue Leith has led the kind of life that invokes the response: ‘where does she find the time?’ Honestly, she has done so many things that it won’t be possible to put them all here. Born in Cape Town, South Africa to Sam Leith, a mining explosives manufacturer, and Peggy Inglis, an actress, Prue Leith had no idea what she wanted as a career. That is until she convinced her parents to allow her to attend the Sorbonne in Paris, where the passion to begin a career in the food industry arose. At the age of 20, she travelled to London to enrol in Cordon Bleu Cookery School and in the same year began a business that became Leith’s Good Food, supplying business lunches and event catering.
Leith opened her first restaurant in Notting Hill in the year 1969, named Leith’s, which was later awarded a Michelin star. She kept the restaurant until 1995, when it was sold and later closed, however. Alongside her award-winning restaurant, Leith founded Leith’s School of Food and Wine to train professional and amateur cooks (her first foray into education), and then sold the business in 1993 after much success. She has also set up a school in South Africa, run, started, and been involved with charities that encourage cookery in the curriculum, cookery for vulnerable young people, and improving school meals.
Leith’s television career surprisingly began unsuccessfully, with a last-minute hosting role on a 1970s magazine series on cookery for women, she disliked the experience but later realised this was a result of the format. Decades later, she began to warm to the idea again and started appearing in some guest roles, then taking a judging position on BBCs The Great British Menu, a role she held for seven years from 2006. Her next big role, and the one that really shot her into stardom, was taking on the position as judge on the Great British Bake Off in 2017, after the show had moved onto Channel 4 from the BBC and previous judge Mary Berry left the role. Leith has taken starring roles in charity spin off shows of GBBO and has taken on solo projects too.
Alongside the cookery television, Leith has found time to feature on daytime and morning shows, including several appearances on Loose Women. Leith is admittedly outspoken on her political beliefs, stating her support for Brexit and defence for Dominic Cummings during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Leith was married to author Rayne Kruger from 1974 until his death in 2002. The couple had two children: Li-Da Kruger, a filmmaker, and Danny Kruger, serving Conservative MP for Devizes.