Prue Leith Isn't Just A GBBO Judge, She's Also A Michelin-Starred Chef

Prue Leith is widely known as the colorful, quick-witted judge of the hit show "The Great British Bake Off." Leith stepped into the role in 2017 to replace the beloved Mary Berry and has since become a subject of the internet's ire. The author, restaurateur, and T.V. personality is often reduced to a poorly dressed, slightly out-of-touch octogenarian by media outlets. In 2023, Leith also received criticism for one of her signature expressions — "worth the calories" — as some said it promoted disordered eating. Even so, Leith's career is impressive and filled with accomplishments, perhaps most notably earning a Michelin Star.

Leith received her formal training from London's renowned Cordon Bleu Cookery School starting in 1960. She later founded Leith's Good Food, an event catering business that helped her make a name for herself amongst London's elite. By 1969, Leith was ready to put down some roots. She opened Leith's, an upscale Notting Hill eatery which quickly became the talk of the town — and eventually earned her a Michelin Star. "When I opened [Leith's] I got a lot of publicity because I was a woman," the GBBO judge said in a 2022 interview with The Splendid Table, adding, "There weren't a lot of women who had smart restaurants." Leith recalls that even before earning her star there, the late-night spot was flooded with high-profile clientele, like members of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

The celeb chef is self-deprecating but self-sufficient

Although it's unclear when exactly Prue Leith's restaurant received a Michelin Star, she told The Splendid Table that it "took a very long time to get." For many chefs, receiving the prestigious accolade — awarded for excellence in food, service, and value — is their crowning achievement, but that didn't stop Leith from bashing her former menu. "When I see the food I was serving 30 years ago, it is so lumpy and clumsy and ugly and looks horrible. I can't believe it," she told My London in 2023. Now, she much prefers the streamlined flavors and presentation of modern cuisine. "I'm very pleased that 'posh' food has gotten simpler," Leith added.

The former restaurateur — now a great GBBO judge — decided to sell her Michelin-starred establishment in 1995. Despite the awards and praise the restaurant received, Leith told The Splendid Table, "We weren't that good." She does believe, however, that working for herself granted her the freedom to succeed. "Women suffer when they've got a boss who is institutionally anti-women," she said, adding, "But if you're your own boss, it's much easier."