The Successful Business Prue Leith Had Before Starring On The Great British Baking Show

Prue Leith is a culinary powerhouse, considering she is a Michelin-starred restauranteur and a recipient of The Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year. The South African native has also impressively written multiple cookbooks and fiction books, and she famously starred as a judge on "The Great British Baking Show." However, the bold color-wearing chef hasn't always been in the spotlight. Leith first ventured into the cooking world at just 20 years old when she enrolled at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu in London and later began a successful party and event catering business.

The company she created was called Leith's Good Food and became popular through her talent for preparing meals and smart marketing skills. "When I was still at cookery school, I started helping other caterers and cooking at a party or something like that and then I started to get my own customers and it began to grow," she told Sarafina Magazine. "I was quite good at talking up why they needed me." However, creating her first business wasn't all smooth sailing when she was a young cook.

How she grew her first catering business and the mistakes she made along the way

Prue Leith explained that while cooking at an event in her early 20s, guests were asking who prepared the incredible-tasting meal and the host wouldn't divulge that it was her. To get the word out about her business, she decided to take matters into her own hands. In a clever move, Leith found where the attendees had left their coats and put her card in each of their pockets. She said the next day she received a call from the secretary of one of the people at the party who wanted her to cater his next lunch, and her business continued to thrive from there.

However, while the famous chef had many successes along the way, she also encountered some mishaps. She told fans that she and her catering team accidentally caused 28 people to be hospitalized and one man was even left in critical condition after eating one of her meals. Leith explained that, in a rush to prepare a chicken and mayonnaise dish, they made a serious error and undercooked the meat. Since it was a hot day, the chicken sat out and caused everyone to get food poisoning.

Thankfully, everyone made a full recovery, but she said the mishap still haunts her and was a wake-up call that caused her to pay very close attention to future meals. This newfound awareness could have been part of the reason her future eatery Leith's went on to receive so many glowing reviews.