British Icon of the Week: Prue Leith, the Cook and Businesswoman Turned ’Baking Show’ Favorite

Dame Prue Leith has become a firm favorite since she joined The Great British Baking Show in 2017. In her judging critiques, she's the perfect blend of warm, well informed and authoritative, and also shows plenty of empathy. With a special holiday edition of the show landing on Netflix today (December 3), we've decided to make her our British Icon of the Week. Here are 10 things we respect and admire about a woman who's not just a terrific cook, but also a formidable businessperson.
1. In 1969, nine years after moving to London from South Africa, where she was born and raised, she opened her own restaurant in Notting Hill: Leith's.
She ran the restaurant – which won a prestigious Michelin star – for more than 25 years before selling it in 1995.
2. Then in 1975, she founded her own cookery school.
Leith sold this business in 1993, but Leith's School of Food and Wine is still training budding chefs today.
3. She has serious kitchen skills, as you'd expect.
Watching Leith demonstrate the perfect technique for cutting an avocado is, well, strangely mesmerizing.
4. As well as cookbooks, she's written eight novels.
According to Leith, "Nearly all of them have cooks, chefs, and restaurateurs as main characters." She definitely knows her personal brand!
5. In 1977, she became the first woman ever to be appointed to the British Railways board.
In this recent video interview, Leith recalls feeling "intimidated" by board meetings to begin with, before realizing that her "trump card" was being able to speak on behalf of ordinary train passengers like herself.
6. She's a longtime campaigner for improving food in British schools.
Among the initiatives she has supported is Chefs for Schools, a nonprofit that aims to recruit professional restaurant-trained chefs to work in U.K. public schools. Leith told The Guardian when it launched in 2018: "We all know that getting children to eat well is vital for their health and happiness and chefs can help inspire schools to get food right and children to eat it."
7. In 1995, she became chair of the Royal Society of Arts, a London-based organization that aims to find practical solutions to global social problems.
During her time as chair, Leith led a successful campaign to use the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square for displays of contemporary sculpture. This exciting public arts program began in 1998 and is still going strong today: you can find out which artwork is currently sitting on the so-called "fourth plinth" here.
8. Last year, she made a poignant and revealing TV documentary with her adopted daughter, Li-Da Kruger. 
Titled Prue Leith: Journey with My Daughter, it followed the two women as they traveled to Cambodia to explore Kruger’s Cambodian roots and heritage. Kruger, the younger of Leith’s two children, is a professional documentary maker who has also made films about The Beatles and Ancient Egypt.
9. Since 2017, she has also served as the Chancellor of Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh.
Seriously though, how does Leith fit everything in?
10. Earlier this year she was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II for services to food, broadcasting and charity. 
Leith shared the news quite humbly on Twitter, writing: "I am thrilled, delighted and very grateful. I’m not sure I deserve such a pat on the back for doing things that I’ve loved all my long life — in business or cooking or campaigning. But I can’t pretend it’s not a huge honor and source of pride.  Dame Prue! It will take some getting used to."
Have we left out something else interesting about Prue Leith