Prue Leith Opens New Dining Room
Chef, restaurateur, cookery writer, businesswoman and novelist Prue Leith visited MSJ on 20 April to officially open the school’s new Alice Dining Room.
Prue cut the ribbon on the new facilities which are part of a £1.4million repurposing of the School’s lower ground floor, and includes new kitchens and serveries as well as the spacious Dining Hall, plus a Leiths cookery room and new Senior school common room.
Prue also met with girls who are taking A Level Food Tech, for which MSJ has recently been given an award by the Good Schools Guide, and girls taking the Leiths Cookery course. She tasted recipes, advised on presentation and answered questions about cooking and making a career out of cooking.
Anita Fisher, Head of Catering, gave Prue a tour of the kitchens and introduced her to staff. Prue was impressed by the importance the school attaches to food and nutrition, by the breadth of the menus, and the culture of staff and girls sitting down together at meal times to relax and unwind. As a boarding school, food and family style dining is at the heart of life here – something that Prue wholeheartedly endorses. In her opening speech she observed that the problems with obesity and diet-related ill-health would be much diminished if we stuck with this traditional way of eating. She also noted the passion and enthusiasm for food amongst the girls she had met.
Prue stayed for Tea and spoke with staff and girls, as well as signing copies of her cookery books. Eleanor Revill, Year 13, presented Prue with a pot of her honey, home-produced in Little Witley.
Prue’s career has included a deep involvement with education. She was previously Chair of the School Food Trust, responsible for the improvement of school food and food education in schools. She now dedicates most of her time to writing novels: six to date, with a new one, The Prodigal Daughter, out in September.
Trish Woodhouse, Headmistress, comments: “Food was one of my top priorities when I joined MSJ. Catering was taken in-house and I believe it’s fair to say that we are one of the best-fed schools in the UK. Our team of catering staff produce healthy and inventive menus, and with the arrival of the new Dining Room these can be enjoyed in a beautiful, modern environment. My home is in Spain, and I am a great believer in the Mediterranean way of eating, where everyone downs tools and enjoys food together. It’s an opportunity to discuss the day, its successes and worries, in an informal and reflective way.”
“We are really grateful to Prue for taking the time to visit us. She has been at the vanguard of putting food on the agenda in every respect – be it writing about it, making it into a business, and helping shape improvements in food in the nation’s schools. The fact that she is a woman makes her a fabulous role model to our girls who were seriously impressed by where a career in food can take you. ”