Our History

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.

Prue Leith OBE, 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 is contacted by us regularly throughout the year to ask her opinion of every major decision that the Group makes and she visits annually to ensure that the quality of the curriculum, the food and service are still at international levels.

Michelin starred in her restaurant Leith’s, Prue also established a top catering company, which is now a proud member of the Compass Group in the UK. Prue sold off her food interests in 1995 to focus on her philanthropy, listed company board memberships and her new interest, novels. A prolific writer of cookbooks including the industry standard Leith’s Cookery Bible, Prue is now working on her fourth novel. Prue has also recently been voted as Chairperson for the School Food Trust in the UK. Please click on the above link for more information on her incredible career.

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) and the Odd Plate Restaurant (renamed The Prue Leith Restaurant).

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