New Zealand's free range cook
04 Aug 2010
Kiwi lifestyle and the dramatic scenery of New Zealand’s Central Otago region are prime ingredients in a new television series fronted by celebrity cook Annabel Langbein.
The petite blonde, renowned for her easy and creative ways with fresh, seasonal produce, becomes The Free Range Cook in the 13-part series due to première soon on Television New Zealand, and pegged for international distribution.
Annabel Langbein, who launched the New Zealand Culinary Institute 23 years ago, has written and published 15 books including best sellers, contributes to NZ magazines and radio, and is a global ambassador for New Zealand food.
Lake Wanaka location
Filming for The Free Range Cook was based around Langbein’s family property on the shores of Lake Wanaka, in the South Island.
It combines stunning local scenery with an honest portrayal of a simple Kiwi lifestyle and sharing easy-to-prepare, attractive food.
Langbein, who co-produced the series, is the hunter gather - filmed fishing from her 1950s boat, collecting honey in the wild, and gathering produce from the two large vegetable gardens on the family’s 9.3 hectare property.
She then creates her dishes in the lakeside ‘cabin’ using two gas rings and a small basic oven.
Fresh, wholesome & local
Annabel Langbein says the emphasis is on fresh, wholesome food, mostly gathered or grown locally, cooked simply, then served with panache.
She says she has always loved gathering food, being outdoors and getting her hands dirty.
The family’s remote lakeside property is in an idyllic setting at the end of a gravel road at the foot of the Southern Alps, and is surrounded by native planting.
Annabel and her husband Ted Hewetson have planted thousands of trees on their property, as well as making the most of the Central Otago climate to establish their extensive vegetable gardens.
The Free Range Cook has taken two years to come to fruition, and was sparked by a YouTube clip of Langbein’s Eat Fresh cookbook that was picked up by Freemantle - the television distributers that discovered Jamie Oliver and took him to the world stage.
Freemantle helped to fund The Free Range Cook series, and promoted it at the recent Cannes television fair.
Langbein says she also received a marketing development grant from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, and relished the opportunity to "showcase New Zealand’s food, wine and lifestyle using the backdrop and local delicacies of Central Otago".
She says The Free Range Cook is not a food show that just features recipes.
"It’s about sharing a simpler way of living with food that’s easy to prepare and looks wonderful, brought together with amazing scenery and that real Kiwi give-it-a-go lifestyle factor.
"I’ve always had a thing about putting New Zealand on the map and establishing our culinary identity. We have such high-quality food and wine, with increasing artisan production and this very sociable lifestyle that we kind of take for granted," she says.
The television series is the latest in a long list of projects successfully masterminded by Langbein - who is one of New Zealand’s best known cooks.
She is credited with starting the New Zealand Culinary Institute 23 years ago, and has produced a number of successful cookbooks with sales close to 1 million, world-wide.
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