Restaurateur, writer, businesswoman, TV presenter – and the Cotswolds’ own – Prue Leith is the new judge on Channel 4’s The Great British Bake Off. Katie Jarvis caught up with her at Le Manoir aux Quat’saisons and almost found out more
Katie Jarvis meets the new star of the Great British Bake-off... but isn’t allowed to mention it!
Cue: speedy clouds scudding across a parodically English sky; a squirrel with interesting nuts, running across a perfect sward of green; a bird posing as if for an RSPB calendar; someone innocent-looking saying something extremely dodgy about buns...
And a wild-eyed, daemon-tormented soul staring bleakly into an oven as if into a Bosch-inspired writhing pit of hell.
Yes, indeed: I’m at Le Manoir Aux Quat’saisons – one of my favourite places on God’s Earth – waiting to hear Prue Leith talk about her forthcoming role as Mary Berry on (Channel 4’s) The Great British Bake Off.
To get this scoop, I’ve blagged (for free) two £205 tickets (Ian insisted on supporting me) to An Evening with Prue Leith CBE at Le Manoir (yes, yes, OK. So what if it does feature a Champagne Laurent-perrier reception with canapés and a four-course dinner with accompanying wines, coffee and petits fours? That’s not the point, actually, thank you very much. I’ve blagged these tickets purely in the name of journalistic endeavour.)
Because what I’m here for is the lowdown on the new Bake Off.
What I’m here for is to find out whether Prue Leith is forgiving of people who’ve wet their bottoms.
Whether she can pull the kind of face that looks as if she’s just stood on an evocative skunk while biting into an off lemon.
Whether she can sizzle at Paul Hollywood while saying things such as, “Your crack is nice and moist.”
And whether she thinks terrible cooking puns are half-baked. Wait a minute and Alaska. “I’m not allowed to talk about Bake Off,” Prue Leith says. What? What?!?
Hang on one frosting minute. You surely don’t mean (I think to myself) that I’ve come all this way – to an utterly luxury destination with blissful gardens and a darling dining room - simply to stuff myself for free with: • Salad of Devonshire Crab, avocado and garden relish; • Risotto of spring garden vegetables and chervil cream; • New season spring lamb, white asparagus, broad beans and rosemary jus; • Milk chocolate and Earl Grey tea crumble with banana and passion fruit sorbet; • Then coffee and petits fours and home-made chocolates?
All washed down with fine wines, poured by