Friday, 20 April 2012


Last night, renowned cook and writer Prue Leith gave a talk at Waterstone's, Richmond, on the occasion of the publication of her book of memoirs Relish. Prue has enjoyed a rich and varied life, from her childhood in South Africa, to studying in Paris, and moving to London in the swinging sixties, when she first started her catering business. She has gone on to be one of the UK's most respected cooks and businesswomen, and has also published several novels.

When talking about the particular appeal of cooking and food, she said she liked nothing better than "standing at the head of the table, doling out ladlefuls of food" to a group of friends seated round her dining table. This really resonated with me, as this is largely my motivation for cooking (apart from greediness, another trait Prue admitted to!): food, its preparation, serving and eating, is, for me, a convivial, nurturing and sharing activity. It should never be simply about fuelling the body, as far as I'm concerned.

She also highlighted the important of good quality ingredients, simply prepared, and praised the French style of food shopping from specialist shop, rather than grabbing everything in one supermarket.

After her talk, we were invited to put questions to Prue. I could not resist asking her "what's your favourite dish?", to which she replied, without hesitation "Cassoulet!". This is also one of my favourite dishes: the time it takes to make, its delicious aroma as it cooks, and its rustic, meaty wholesomeness make it a perfect dish to share.

Prue's new book is available from Waterstone's and other good booksellers. My post on Cassoulet here.

Demon Cook with Prue Leith

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