Prue Leith on being ‘grateful’ for fame

Celebrity chef and Great British Bake Off judge Dame Prue Leith has revealed she finds fame “flattering”, and it is something she is “grateful” for.

The 82-year-old has built her career around food, first as a restaurateur and chef, and later as a judge on Great British Menu before moving to The Great British Bake Off in 2017.

Speaking about the contrast in her experience with that of her fellow Bake Off judge, Paul Hollywood, Dame Prue told the PA news agency: “He’s always very good tempered if we’re somewhere and somebody comes up and wants us to do a selfie. He’ll say ‘Oh, all right then’, but he doesn’t like it.

“He would much prefer to be somewhere nobody will see him.

Virgin Media BAFTA TV Awards 2019 – Arrivals – London
Dame Prue Leith has been a judge on The Great British Bake Off since 2017 (Matt Crossick/PA)

“Whereas I think I’m quite grateful for it, these are the people who pay my wages.

“It’s really flattering. People are very nice.

“You know I’d hate to be a politician and have that kind of fame.

“Then at least half the country will hate you, whatever your policy is, whatever you do, half the people won’t like you, whereas everybody likes food! It’s not something that makes natural enemies.

“I mean, I’m sure some people are irritated by me or don’t like me, for some reason or another, but it won’t be serious.

“They’re not going to be beastly about it.

“It’s very rare that I’m attacked or trolled.”

Dame Prue joined the popular baking competition show after it moved from BBC One to Channel 4.

The South Africa-born chef is adding to her judging roles, helping with the inaugural Uber Eats Restaurant of the Year awards.

Of her role on the panel, she said: “Most of the public now are eating at least some of their food delivered by Uber Eats and so there are masses of restaurants that rely on the delivery service for their customers.

“So I think it’s a very modern and proper thing to do to judge those restaurants.

“We have lots of restaurant awards for conventional restaurants, and a lot of Uber Eats are delivered by restaurants that also have people who eat in… And what I liked about it and the reason I was really happy to be a judge is that it takes in everybody’s tastes.”

Dame Prue also revealed her preference for proper food etiquette when she is cooking and serving food at mealtimes.

“The only thing that reliably makes me cross is if I cook something badly, or I produce something that is not good,” she told PA.

“I think it’s just a waste of an opportunity.

“It’s a waste of good ingredients, it’s a waste of money, it’s a waste of time and it’s insulting to the people that you’re feeding.”

She added: “I am quite fussy.

“I like people to sit down and I’m quite rough with my husband if he pulls out his phone when we’re having supper, even if it’s just the two of us.

“I think it’s almost a sort of sacred time – even if it’s just a simple supper on the terrace in the sun, you should talk to each other.

“I like the ceremony of it, I like a glass of wine, and I like it to look nice.

“I’m my mother’s daughter in that I could never put a milk bottle on the table, it would go in a jug, and ditto an orange juice carton, which I know is neurotic.”

– The Uber Eats Restaurant of the Year will be announced at an award ceremony in London on August 25.