Bake Off’s Prue Leith made a dame

The 81-year-old is a prolific cook book author, broadcaster and restaurateur.

Prue Leith
Prue Leith

The Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith has been made a dame in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

The South African-born restaurateur and broadcaster is recognised for services to food, broadcasting and charity.

Leith, 81, said she was “thrilled, delighted and very grateful” with what is her latest honour, having previously been made an OBE in 1989 and a CBE in 2010.

“I’m not sure I deserve such a pat on the back for doing things that I’ve loved all my long life – in business or cooking or campaigning,” she tweeted. “But I can’t pretend it’s not a huge honour and source of pride. Dame Prue! It will take some getting used to.”

After a spell in Paris as a student, Leith moved to London in the 1960s to pursue a career in the food industry.

In 1974 she founded her own cookery school, Leith’s School of Food and Wine, which trains professional chefs and amateur cooks.

She sold the school in the early 1990s before setting up a college in South Africa, and carved out a career as a cooking columnist and novelist, as well as a television personality.

Leith spent more than a decade as a judge on BBC Two’s Great British Menu before switching to Bake Off when it moved to Channel 4 in 2017.

She replaced another dame – Mary Berry.

While Bake Off’s move to Channel 4 was controversial at the time, Leith has proved to be a fan favourite and established a winning rapport with co-host Paul Hollywood.

Prue Leith with her husband John Playfair
Author Prue Leith with her husband, John Playfair, whom she married in 2016 (Tristan Fewings/PA)

The show remains hugely popular.

However, Leith’s time on Bake Off has not been without incident.

In 2017 she apologised after accidentally revealing the winner hours before the episode was due to air.

She blamed being in Bhutan and being confused over the time difference for the slip.

Leith was married to South African author Rayne Kruger for almost 30 years until his death aged 80 in 2002.

The Great British Bake Off
Prue Leith (PA)

They had two children – including Danny Kruger, Conservative MP for Devizes in Wiltshire.

Leith sparked controversy in May last year after sharing support for her son’s friend, Dominic Cummings.

She called for a “bit of kindness and tolerance” for Boris Johnson’s former top adviser after he was widely criticised for allegedly breaking lockdown rules.

Leith married fashion designer John Playfair in 2016.

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