Prue Leith first started as a cook at a firm of solicitors but has gone on to become one of Britain’s best loved restaurateurs and food writers.
After training at Le Cordon Bleu cookery school in London she worked as a caterer before opening her restaurant Leith’s in west London in 1969.
In 1974 she founded her own cookery school, Leith’s School of Food and Wine, which trains professional chefs and amateur cooks.
Famous alumni of the school include Lorraine Pascale, Gizzi Erskine and Matt Tebbutt, as well as Michelin-star chefs including Joe Mercer Nairne and Matt Christmas.
The South African-born cook, 76, has written a dozen cookbooks, most famously Leith’s Cookery Bible, which was penned as a textbook for her school and is frequently updated.
She sold the school in the early 1990s before setting up a college in South Africa and has carved out a career as a cooking columnist and novelist, as well as a television personality.
Prue judged the BBC cookery show The Great British Menu for 11 years before stepping down at the end of last year, shortly after her old friend Mary Berry announced she would not follow the Great British Bake Off to Channel 4.
She is still as passionate about food as she ever was, writing on her website: “I love cooking, the doing of it.
“And even though I’ve given up writing cookbooks in order to conserve my writing energies for novels, I still like experimenting and trying stuff and eating things I’ve never eaten before.
“And of course I’m seriously greedy. I will go to the grave wishing I was a stone lighter (right now I wish I was a stone and a half lighter).
“But I simply refuse to eat salad without dressing, or strawberries without cream, or boiled eggs without toast soldiers.”
Prue is a former chair of the Children’s Food Trust, which campaigns to encourage the nation’s children to eat more healthily, and was awarded an OBE in 1989 and a CBE in the 2010 Birthday Honours.