Prue Leith defends cooking Canadian goose egg omelette

Wednesday 04 June 2008 15:16

British chef Prue Leith has defended herself after revealing she raided a Canada goose nest in her garden for eggs to make an omelette.

The columnist and Great British Menu judge said she mixed her eggs with fresh herbs and served the impromptu lunch, along with salad and ciabatta, to three friends.

Taking wild bird eggs can be illegal and is punishable by up to six months in jail and a £5,000 fine.

Miss Leith, 68, revealed the controversial ingredient during an interview with Good Housekeeping magazine.

She said: "Four of us had the most delicious omelette from Canada Geese who nest near my pond (and no, I didn't take all the eggs) with the combined leftover salads from yesterday's lunch - a lentil and tomato one and a coleslaw.

"I mixed them together with a handful of fresh parsley and chives from my herb pots outside the kitchen door. And we had stale ciabatta, refreshed (in other words dampened and rebaked) and served hot, with olive oil to dip in."

She added: "If I hadn't learned to cook I wouldn't have had the confidence to make that lunch."

A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said: "It is illegal to take wild birds' eggs just for the purpose of making an omelette.

"There are severe penalties if this was found to be the case."

But he added: "If the person can prove that the birds were causing a public health and safety risk, an air safety risk or damage to crops or water then it would be legal to take their eggs or kill them.

"In the example of Prue Leith it is impossible to say whether this is the case and as the nest was on her land it would be easy to argue that the birds were some sort of pest."

Miss Leith defended her actions, saying: "As far as I know it is not illegal and I need to keep the numbers down."

Canada geese were first introduced to the UK from America in the 17th Century and there are now 82,000 adult birds.

They are often seen as a nuisance, flooding parks and forcing out native species.

They lay five or six eggs in March and April and the incubation period is normally around a month.

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