Rice or Chips?

Panel discussion at Leiths 40th anniversary

We were tickled pink to be invited to Leiths 40th anniversary party at the fabulous Bush Hall in London last week. I shook Prue Leiths hand and thanked her for the Bible, which sort of came out wrong and chatted to Yotam Ottelenghi!

​Leiths School of Food and Wine are celebrating 40 years this year and to kick-off the celebrations they hosted a panel discussion and party last week. Chaired by award winning food writer and broadcaster Tim Hayward, a panel of industry greats including Leiths founder Prue Leith, Yotam Ottolenghi, Rick Stein and Gizzi Erskine, chewed over the many and varied changes in food, cooking and eating over the last 40 years or so. Prue Leith kicked off by saying that the end of rationing brought the biggest changes she had seen and then the discussion ranged from the influence of the internet, eating on ones lap in front of the TV, to eating offal (only for toffs south of Watford!) and the influence of niche food trucks on our changing tastes. Of course the panel was preaching to the converted, an audience made up of Leiths current, prospective and ex-students, food writers, publishers, bloggers, cooks, chefs and enthusiastic eaters. The audience were asked to submit questions prior to the event and there were some interesting ones including a call for more goat meat to be farmed in the UK, apparently it is the most eaten meat on the planet. Towards the end of the discussion Tim Hayward said that the intellectual standard of the evening was about to be raised with a question from Scott Poulson, and went on to ask, “Prue, rice or chips?”

“Rice”, came the answer, “so much more versatile”! Perhaps unsurprisingly the only panel member to answer chips was, yes you guessed it, Rick Stein! He also moaned that salt has been taken out of HP sauce but was reassured by Prue who reminded him he could always add his own!

Special Design Studio designed the logo for the 40th celebrations along with a celebratory brochure, invites etc, so we knew it was going to be a glamorous ‘do’ but we were bowled over by the warmth and enthusiasm of the Leith’s team, the delicious Louis Latour wines and fabulous canapes and of course being able to ask the key question of the night!

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Host Tim Hayward said that the intellectual standard of the evening was about to be raised with a question from Scott Poulson, and went on to ask, "Prue, rice or chips?" In our goodie bags from the evening, an object of desire and useful too, a beautiful copper pan. So far been used for hot chocolate for one, melting butter and glazing a tart with jelly!

Nania Tait