The Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith has recalled the tale in all its gruesome detail, writing that she and her mother lowered a bag of baby cats into some water just hours after their birth. She said that the 11 little creatures didn’t fight for very long before they stopped meowing. Prue told how her mother decided that was the best course of action, as she was unable to find homes for yet another litter of kittens.
“My mother and I, then 11, had just drowned some kittens… and for weeks I imagined those poor dead creatures,” she wrote in her new book, I’ll Try Anything Once.
“Too many kittens was a frequent occurrence and there had come a day when my mother, unable to find homes for yet another litter, decided to drown the latest batch.
“’My protests were met with a firm, ‘Darling, it has to be done. They are only a few hours old. They will hardly know it’s happening’.”
Despite her protests, Prue added that her mother said they only needed to hold the bag of kittens under the water for a short time to send them to “sleep” but that they “fought like the devil for life”.
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Although her mother then had doubts about her own actions, by that point it was too late and she had to keep holding the bag under the water until the bitter end.
Prue’s kitten story is just one of many from her new book, another of which involves her nearly giving food poisoning to 30 people when her catering company Leith’s Good Food, catered an event.
Cooking up an unsavoury chicken mayonnaise, the star left a whopping 28 people in hospital.
Prue explained that one man became so critically ill that he “could have ended up in a morgue!”
Speaking openly about the event which soon went “disastrously wrong” during her Nothing In Moderation tour, which played in Bath last month, Prue shared: “You can’t be in catering for 30 years without something going disastrously wrong.”
She went on to explain that the dangerous error occurred when five more guests were added to the already 25 guest heavy event.
“The cooks poached another chicken while the flesh was still warm, which is a crime, and they mixed with the chicken that was already there,” Prue explained.
The event went from bad to worse as she went on to say that the venue had no refrigeration and so the food was left out on an exceptionally hot day.
“This chicken sat there and lunch was very late and we managed to poison everybody,” she added.
Despite accepting that things can go wrong, especially during such a lengthy career such as her own, Prue said that this particular tale was a “wake up call”.
She said: “It haunts me that episode as everybody was ill. All 30 people but two of them ended up in hospital and one of them was in critical care as he was very old and was a High Court judge.”
Having not affected her career in the long run, Prue went on to appear on television, after having a relatively successful career writing both fiction and non fiction novels.
Her first television appearance was in the 1970s, when she presented two 13-episode magazine series aimed particularly for women at home.
After a brief stint on television she returned as a judge on The Great British Menu, which lasted for 11 years until in 2016.
Before going to the Bake Off tent, Prue appeared on My Kitchen Rules, a cooking show first broadcast on Sky Living in 2014 and then on Channel 4 from 2016.
Shortly before My Kitchen Rules finished in 2017 Prue announced she was leaving to replace Mary Berry as a judge on Bake Off alongside Paul Hollywood after the programme moved to Channel 4.