Annabel Langbein

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Annabel Langbein is a New Zealand celebrity cook, food writer and publisher. She has published 25 cookbooks and fronted three seasons of her TV series, Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook, which launched on the TV One network in New Zealand and has since screened in more than 90 countries, including on the PBS network in the USA.

It’s Annabel’s mission to get people into the kitchen to create simple, healthy and delicious meals using fresh seasonal ingredients. Her lighthearted, down-to-earth approach, no-fail recipes and clever kitchen tips have earned her a passionate international following. A foundation member of the Sustainability Council of New Zealand, Annabel is uniquely qualified as a flag-bearer for the international sustainability movement, having spent her early life living off the land, cooking over an open fire, trapping possums (a major pest in New Zealand) and crayfish, and jumping out of helicopters to recover live deer.


She is the daughter of Fred and Anne Langbein and is married to Ted Hewetson, with whom she has two children, Sean and Rose. Her father worked in a city office but was a keen vegetable gardener and beekeeper, while her mother was a cook and home science university graduate. She credits her mother as the inspiration for her cooking. Annabel first met husband Ted while working as a possum trapper on his family's farm on the East Cape of New Zealand. By chance she later shared a flat with her future sister-in-law Debbie, who helped orchestrate their relationship. She claims to have attracted Ted with the help of a bacon and egg pie. He proposed three times before she finally said yes and they married in Wellington.[1][2]

Annabel's life[edit]

As a teenager in the 1970s, Annabel says she was a fully-fledged hippie and feminist, railed against domesticity, consumerism and the urban world in general, and left home and school at the age of 16. Her mother took her to Europe in the hope of showing her the 'real world' but on her return she moved up the Whanganui River with some friends to enjoy an alternative lifestyle growing vegetables, cooking over a fire and living off the land. For several years she hunted and fished for much of her own food, and it was during this time that she honed her cooking skills through endless experimentation.[3]

She started to cook for a living when she went to Gisborne to work as a chef in a friend's restaurant. But she soon realised that she didn't want to cook the same food every day and used the opportunity to save money for an overseas experience. She travelled the world experimenting with different flavours but got sick in South America and ended up living in Brazil for a year and starting her own croissant business there. She eventually made her way back to New Zealand.[2][4]

A life-threatening experience in the 1980s, when she was thrown from a horse and given virtually no chance of walking again, reinforced for Annabel the importance of safeguarding her wellness and making the most of each day. She experienced a ‘eureka’ moment when she realised she could change people’s lives by sharing her knowledge of cooking and eating well, and confounded the doctors by making a complete recovery.

She and Ted now live on the shores of Lake Wanaka, in New Zealand's spectacular Southern Alps, where over more than 20 years they have transformed a patch of boggy bush into extensive gardens and orchards.


Annabel has never formally trained as a chef, but has a Diploma of Horticulture with Distinction from Lincoln University in New Zealand and has attended residential cooking courses at the Culinary Institute of America in upstate New York.[1][3][5]

Since 1984 she has worked as a food writer, writing for several magazines including the New Zealand Herald's Canvas magazine, NZ Life & Leisure, NZ Listener and Cuisine,[6][7][8] as well as writing and publishing her own cookbooks. She has appeared on The Today Show in the USA, Saturday Kitchen in the UK, 24 Kitchen in The Netherlands and numerous other media outlets.


Annabel self-published her first book of recipes 1988, and has since built one of New Zealand’s most successful publishing houses, Annabel Langbein Media. She has authored and self-published 25 cookbooks, which have been published in numerous languages and sold more than two million copies all around the world. The Best of Annabel Langbein: Great Food for Busy Lives, was published in 1997, has been reprinted numerous times since and is known as “the kitchen bible” in many New Zealand households. Her 2010 book The Free Range Cook was available in more than 70 countries and sold more than 110,000 copies.[8][9][10]

In 1991 she established the Culinary Institute of New Zealand, a specialist food marketing consultancy, and was responsible for marketing and media campaigns for New Zealand food manufacturers, retailers and exporters, as well as promoting New Zealand food offshore for Trade New Zealand.[6] For seven years she was a director of New Zealand gourmet cheese company Kapiti[8] and for three years she was a judge for the International Association of Culinary Professionals' Julia Child Award for the best first cookbook.[6][11]

Her philanthropic work has included raising substantial sums for the Heart Foundation of New Zealand, Autism New Zealand and other charity groups.


UK-based global content company FremantleMedia first noticed Annabel's presenting skills in 2008, when she posted on YouTube a series of how-to cooking features that she had made to promote her book Eat Fresh.[1] They approached her and offered to back her to produce a fully fledged TV series.

In August 2010, New Zealand's TV One debuted her show, Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook, a 13-part cooking and lifestyle series filmed at Annabel's cabin on the shores of Lake Wanaka and showcasing New Zealand's beautiful scenery and quality artisanal produce. She co-produced the series and worked with a seven-person TVNZ crew over a six-month filming schedule. It was the first time she had fronted her own cooking show and series on television,[12] but she has since co-produced two further seasons of the show.

The series has been distributed worldwide by FremantleMedia, and has appeared on the ABC network in Australia and other networks in France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Poland, Israel, UK, Canada, Asia, Brazil and Japan.[12] In Brazil the show airs on the GNT cable channel under the translated title A Cozinha Caseira de Annabel (Annabel's Homemade Cooking).[13]

Year Programme Episodes Duration
2010 Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook 13 episodes 30 minutes
2012 Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook: Simple Pleasures 13 episodes 30 minutes
2014 Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook: Through the Seasons 13 episodes 30 minutes


Annabel’s books and TV series have won numerous national and international awards. In February 2016 she won the People’s Choice Award for Best Home Chef in a TV Series at the US-based Taste Awards.

Her books have won Gourmand World Cookbook Awards for Best Entertaining Cookbook, Best Easy Recipes Cookbook and Best Celebrity Cookbook. In 2013 she won NZ Guild of Food Writers Culinary Quills for best website, best TV series and best book, and in 2014 she won Best Culinary Series and Best Presenter at the Best on the Box People’s Choice Awards. The Best of Annabel Langbein: Great Food for Busy Lives won the 1999 New Zealand Guild of Foodwriters Recipe Book of the Year award, while Savour the Pacific: A Discovery of Taste won the Best Photography in the World award at the World Cookbook Awards in Périgueux, France, as well as a Ladle at the 2001 World Food Media Awards.[6][14]

In 2008 Annabel was inducted into the Wellington Girls College Business Hall of Fame, and in 2013 she received New Zealand’s most prestigious individual achievement award, a World Class New Zealand Award.



  1. ^ a b c Fraser, Fiona. "ANNABEL LANGBEIN'S FREE-RANGE FAMILY". New Zealand Woman's Weekly. Retrieved 11 October 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Kiwi celebrity chef: Annabel Langbein". Tourism New Zealand. Retrieved 4 July 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "annabel's story". Annabel Langbein Media. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 4 July 2011. 
  4. ^ King, Michelle. "her inspiration – Cooking up a Storm". Stretton Publishing Co Ltd. Retrieved January 2008.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  5. ^ "More on Annabel". TVNZ. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Who we are". Sustainability Council of New Zealand. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 6 July 2011. 
  7. ^ . Annabel Langbein Media.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  8. ^ a b c Barnes, Lyn. "The free-range cook" (PDF). NZ Life & Leisure. Retrieved July 2010.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  9. ^ "Annabel Langbein Media Limited". Made From New Zealand. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  10. ^ "Authors write their own paycheques". APN Holdings NZ Limited. 7 March 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2011. 
  11. ^ "Cookbook Awards". International Association of Culinary Professionals. Retrieved 6 July 2011. 
  12. ^ a b Pattison, Catherine. "Showing off Central Otago". Allied Press Limited. Archived from the original on 26 August 2010. Retrieved 25 August 2010. 
  13. ^ (Portuguese). "a cozinha caseira de annabel". Globosat Programadora Ltda. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  14. ^ "Culinary Quills Awards". New Zealand Guild of Food Writers. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 

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