Prue Leith

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

Cotswold Life - - AUGUST -

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

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