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It is only a matter of time now before cod cooked in beer, sausage and potato kebabs and caramelised marrow begin appearing on some school menus.

Prue Leith's more innovative recipes have helped to make her one of the country's most respected chefs.

And now the legendary cookery writer (pictured, right) with 12 books to her name will be bringing her ideas to school canteens across the country as the new chair of the School Food Trust.

While Jamie Oliver may have been hogging the school-meals limelight, Mrs Leith (OBE) will take over the fight to improve nutrition and lure children away from the junk in their packed lunchboxes.

Schools have complained that new lunches, introduced after Jamie Oliver's campaign, have been financially ruinous, as children turn their noses up at fancy treats such as butternut squash and ciabatta.

But that does not seem to have deterred Ms Leith, who runs cookery courses in London and her native South Africa.

"This is the most important job I have ever had and I cannot wait to start work," she said.

Ms Leith is expected to earn around pound;15,000 for chairing the board six times a year.

Which is roughly the amount some dinner ladies earn annually for working in the canteen every school day.

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