The Prue Leith Group was established by Tiny Barnetson, Graham Ledger, Judy Dyason and Grant McLaghlan in 1996 to train up young chefs to the highest professional level.
All four were either owner/operator or senior employees of boutique hotels scattered around the northern part of the country. These hotels included Mount Sheba Hotel, Hulala Lakeside Lodge, Glenshiel Country Lodge and the Impala Inn in Phalaborwa and the key link between them was that they all focused on quality food. This often meant that chefs from Europe had to be sourced and the difficulty with this was that one was never sure who would arrive until it was too late. Born from this frustration was the idea to create a chef training facility that ticked all the boxes, one box of which was a name that would be instantly and internationally recognized.
Dame Prue Leith, was approached and loved the business plan concept so much that she allowed, for the first time ever, a third party to make use of her name. Not only did she allow this determined team of hoteliers to use her name, but she also played an active role in developing the curriculum based on her experience from running her own cooking school, Leith’s School of Food and Wine which she sold with the rest of her food empire in 1995. Prue plays an integral part in every major decision that the Group make and she visits regularly to ensure that the quality of the curriculum, the food and service are still at international levels.
As mentioned above, the Group started in 1996 but only commenced operations in January 1997, with the opening of the Prue Leith College of Food & Wine (renamed the Prue Leith Chefs Academy in 2008) and the Odd Plate Restaurant (renamed The Prue Leith Restaurant). In 2020, coinciding with our patron’s 80th birthday the school rebranded again as the Prue Leith Culinary Institute.
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