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Saturday 16 December 2017

Cookery queen Prue is Bake Off's flavour of the month

Prue Leith is to replace Mary Berry as a judge on The Great British Bake Off. Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire
Prue Leith is to replace Mary Berry as a judge on The Great British Bake Off. Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

Television cook Prue Leith is set to replace Mary Berry as a judge on The Great British Bake Off.

The former Great British Menu judge will appear alongside Paul Hollywood when the hit show moves to Channel 4 later this year.

Leith (76) is reportedly seen as a "like-for-like" replacement for Berry, who chose to stay with the BBC along with hosts Mel Gied-royc and Sue Perkins.

"Both are from similar backgrounds, so hopefully viewers will be accepting and give Prue a chance to win them over," said a source.

"Following in Mary's footsteps is a big challenge, but the producers are confident that Prue has all the attributes.

"In cookery circles, she's practically royalty."

The South African-born author, campaigner and restaurateur stepped down as a judge on The Great British Menu in October after 10 years on the programme.

A Channel 4 spokeswoman said they will be announcing the revamped show's line-up "in due course".

Last month, Berry (81) was named best TV judge at the National Television Awards for The Great British Bake Off.

Prue started out 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.

Alumni

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.

Leith has written a dozen cookbooks, most famously Leith's Cookery Bible, which was produced 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.

Leith, who says she is still as passionate about food as she ever was, wrote on her website: "I love cooking, the doing of it. I still like experimenting."

Leith is a former chair of the Children's Food Trust, which campaigns to encourage Britain's children to eat more healthily, and was awarded an OBE in 1989 and a CBE in the 2010 Birthday Honours.

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