Businesswoman, Restaurateur & Writer
In 1960 Prue Leith started cooking lunches for directors’ dining rooms, which grew into Leith’s Good Food Limited, with contracts for such venues as the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster, The Edinburgh International Conference Centre, and the Orient Express Train. By 1995 when the business was sold Leith’s employed over 500 staff and had a turn-over of £15 million.
In 1969 Prue opened Leith’s restaurant in Notting Hill, which won a Michelin star. In 1975 she founded Leith’s School of Food and Wine which trains about 200 cooks and chefs per annum. She sold both businesses in the late ‘90’s.
She has been a columnist for the Daily Mail, Sunday Express, the Guardian and the Daily Mirror. She was the subject of two T.V. documentaries and has appeared in and presented many TV programs and is a judge on the Great British Menu series. She has written 12 cookbooks and five novels, Leaving Patrick, Sisters and A Lovesome Thing, published by Penguin; Choral Society, A Serving of Scandal and The Gardener published by Quercus. .
She has been a non-executive director of British Rail, Safeway plc, Halifax plc, Whitbread plc, Woolworths Group plc and Omega International plc. She is a former Chairman of the Royal Society of Arts, Ashridge Management College and of 3E’s Ltd which was the first company to be awarded contracts to ‘turn round’ and run state schools and set up City Academies. She is a former member of Food from Britain, the National Training Task Force and the National Council for Vocational Qualifications and a former Chairman of The Restaurateurs Association of Great Britain and the School Food Trust. She has been much involved with charities, particularly those encouraging cooking in schools, professional qualifications for chefs, promoting British food, training disadvantaged young people for the restaurant industry. There is a Prue Leith College of Food and Wine in South Africa.
She is currently on the board of Orient-Express Hotels Ltd.
She has received many honours, most notably her CBE in 2010, Veuve Clicquot Business-Woman of the Year in 1990, and 13 honorary degrees or Fellowships from UK Universities.