Prue Leith, now a successful novelist, started her career in 1960, cooking lunches for directorsâ€™ dining rooms. In 1969 Prue opened Leithâ€™s restaurant in Notting Hill, which won a Michelin star. In 1975 she founded Leithâ€™s School of Food and Wine. There is also a highly successful Prue Leith Chefs Academy in South Africa.
By 1995 when the business was sold Leithâ€™s employed over 500 staff, and Prue had joined the board of many major UK companies such as Whitbread and the Halifax, and had won Businesswoman of the Year.
Throughout her catering career Prue was also a writer. She was successively a columnist for the Daily Mail, Sunday Express, The Guardian and the Daily Mirror and wrote twelve cookbooks. When she turned 50 she was determined to stop writing cookbooks and sell the businesses, so that she could realise her long-term ambition to write fiction. Six novels about the ups and downs of love, family and business, followed her first, Leaving Patrick, which was published by Penguin in 1999. Her most recent book, The Food of Love (Quercus) is the first of a trilogy of novels, with the development of food from wartime rationing to telly chefs as the background to a family saga. The first book is out now and The Prodigal Daughter will follow in September, with the third, Lost and Found due out next year. The trilogy has been optioned for a major TV series.
Prue has also written her memoirs - Relish: My Life on a Plate, published by Quercus.
Prue Leith in 60 seconds
When did you start writing?1958 In Paris at 18. My mother sent my letters home to the editor of the Johannesburg Tatler and they led to a column Prue in Paris.
What do you love about short stories?Great for trains, planes and when you have to get up in the morning and donâ€™t want to get engrossed in a big book.
Do you write in other forms?Yes, novels, and Iâ€™ve written a Memoir, Relish, and journalism for the Spectator, Oldie and sometimes other newspapers.
What distracts you from writing?All the above, but mostly TV work.
Outside of writing, what are your other passions?Iâ€™ve had parallel careers as a food writer, caterer, restaurateur, charity worker and campaigner (mostly about good food for children and teaching people to cook) and businesswoman. And I love gardening, and art, both old and new, and walking.
What is your favourite book?Anthony Trollopeâ€™s The Warden.
Who are your favourite writers?Anthony Trollope, JoJo Moyes and Afsaneh Knight.
Where is your dream location?My kitchen table.
What one item would you put into Room 101?The expression â€œbored ofâ€. Surely it should be â€œbored byâ€ or â€œbored withâ€?? But I heard Prince Charles say â€œbored ofâ€ so I guess Iâ€™ll have to accept it.
Do you have any advice for new writers?Anthony Trollope said it wasnâ€™t genius that led to his prolific output, it was â€œcobberâ€™s waxâ€, meaning the glue that stuck his bum to the seat.
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