CULINARY legend Prue Leith has been appointed as the new Chancellor of Queen Margaret University.
The writer, restaurateur and judge on hit BBC show Great British Menu has agreed to replace Kwik Fit founder Sir Tom Farmer at the institution.
South Africa-born Leith built her own party and event catering firm – Leith’s Good Food – from scratch in the 1960s before opening her famous Michelin starred restaurant Leith’s in 1969.
She then founded Leith’s School of Food and Wine in 1975, before selling her empire in the mid-1990s.
The 74-year-old, who lives in the Cotswolds, was appointed as a judge on the Great British Menu in 2006, putting chefs under severe scrutiny in a bid to identify Britain’s finest dishes and top culinary talent.
Her role at Queen Margaret University is mainly a ceremonial one that she will juggle with writing novels.
Leith said: “Following the wonderful Tom Farmer will not be easy, but I look forward to it. I much admire the way QMU has consistently regarded food, nutrition and health as practical and socially important, as well as academic, subjects.
“And I love the enthusiasm and can-do attitude of students. So I know it will be interesting and fun. And I hope I will be useful.”
Leith has received 11 honorary degrees or fellowships from UK universities, including one from Queen Margaret University in 1997. She was appointed an OBE in 1989 and CBE in the 2010 Birthday Honours list.
She has held numerous public appointments, including Chair of the School Food Trust, the UK Government’s campaign to replace foods high in salt, sugar and fat with freshly cooked healthy food, from 2006-2010.
University chiefs hope she will act as a figurehead for Queen Margaret’s work in food and drink, including that of its Scottish Centre for Food Development and Innovation.
Professor Petra Wend, principal and vice-chancellor of Queen Margaret University, said: “Prue Leith’s career and background resonates deeply with the values and ethos of Queen Margaret University, as well as with our flagships in health and rehabilitation; creativity and culture; and sustainable business.
“She is a highly respected public figure who has strong beliefs about the importance of education and in its transformational importance to society.
“Prue is an accomplished public speaker and writer, and is able to connect with a wide audience, through her writing of novels, her opinion pieces and passion for good food.
“We look forward to her involvement in events such as our main graduation ceremonies, Children’s University graduations, and alumni and development events.”