The former Great British Bake Off judge Mary Berry is in line to receive a damehood this week as part of the Queen’s birthday honours list, according to reports.
The food writer and broadcaster will join a “bumper” list alongside medical professionals, volunteers and fundraisers honoured for their response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
Publication of the list, which was agreed before the pandemic took hold in the UK, was postponed in June so that individuals who played crucial roles in the first months of the outbreak could be added. Recipients will be officially recognised on Saturday.
Over a six-decade career, Berry has written more than 70 cookery books and was a judge on Great British Bake Off until 2016, leaving the show out of “loyalty” to the BBC when it moved to Channel 4.
Most recently, she has been a judge on BBC One’s Best Home Cook and presented shows including Mary Berry’s Simple Comforts and Classic Mary Berry.
Berry, 85, received a CBE for services to culinary arts in 2012 and once described being invited to Buckingham Palace for dinner with the Queen as her “greatest memory”. “When I first got the call to invite me I had thought it was a joke. [My son] answered the phone and said: ‘It’s Buckingham Palace for you,’” she told students during an address at Cambridge University in 2017.
Born in 1935, Berry attended Bath high school, but said she was “hopeless” academically until a teacher encouraged her cooking skills during domestic science classes. She went on to study at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Paris before becoming the editor of Housewife magazine and then Ideal Home magazine in the 1960s.
Berry’s first television presenting role came in the 1970s, instructing viewers how to make simple dishes at home on Afternoon Plus. She has won a number of awards for her work, including best TV judge at the National Television awards in 2017 for Great British Bake Off.
Berry recently told the Irish News her cooking had changed during the national lockdown. “I made things like fish cakes – we love fish cakes – and I did batches of minced beef and a fairly basic sauce, so I could take that out of the freezer and turn it into something with pasta, or into cottage and shepherd’s pies,” she said.
A spokesperson for the Cabinet Office said they would not comment on speculation.