She has been called ‘New Zealand's First Lady of the kitchen’, but the kitchen she spends most of her time in these days turns out to be a relatively low-key affair.
Twenty years ago, her husband Ted Hewetson surprised her by buying a cottage on the shores of Lake Wanaka. Once she’d finished telling him off for his impetuousness, she surprised herself by falling in love with the place. Today, with their two children studying in Melbourne, the couple choose to spend most of their time running their global publishing and broadcasting business from the idyllic South Island town.
The cottage may be small but the property spreads over nine hectares so Annabel, a keen gardener, has developed an extensive garden where, as you can see, flowers and grapes thrive as well as the organic vegetables and herbs she uses in her culinary masterpieces.
“I like to cook the landscape,” Annabel explains with a grin.
One of the pleasures of living in Central Otago is that there are regular farmers’ markets where Annabel and her friends can pick out any extra fresh produce that she may not have grown herself.
Annabel’s mission may be to empower and inspire us all to eat more fresh seasonal produce, and her country kitchen may simple and unpretentious, but that doesn’t mean she likes to cook the old-fashioned way.
“While I love to cook, I don't want to spend hours in the process,” she says. “If I can skip or simplify a step and get the same result, I will. That's an advantage of being a self-taught cook.”
Annabel has not one but two La Cornue ovens in her kitchen, the Le Chateau 120 and Albertine 90 pictured above.
Apart from some modern equipment and gadgets, Annabel’s needs are simple. “A good knife is number one in the kitchen, followed by a good wooden chopping board, a heavy frypan and a fast heat source. Getting that little kit right is a great kick-off point to being able to cook easily and well.”
The Sugar Club is arguably the restaurant with the best views in the world, perched atop Auckland’s 328-metre (1,076-foot) Sky Tower.
Its owner, Peter Gordon, is arguably New Zealand’s best-known chef, even though he left his home town of Whanganui at the tender age of 19 and made his name in the United Kingdom, where he owns The Providores, Tapa Room and Kopapa restuarants.
Although he divides his time today between the UK and New Zealand, his base is a flat in London. Perhaps because he travels so often, his own kitchen is something of a refuge for him. Like Annabel Langbein, his preference is for his home kitchen to be cosy and characterful rather than minimalistic like a restaurant kitchen, and he also likes to cook for family and friends when he’s not working.
Despite its small size, Peter’s kitchen has all the requisites of a true foodie kitchen – sharp knives, a good mortar and pestle, some quality labour-saving devices and a three-burner gas hob. The wall oven at right has a rotisserie.
“Because I love rotisserie, and often have 10, 12, 14 people round for dinner when I do cook, I wanted something that would handle that easily,” he explains.
Carl Koppenhagen and Natalia Schamroth
Carl and Natalia are partners in Auckland’s award-winning Engine Room restaurant as well as partners in life. They worked with appliance manufacturer Fisher & Paykel to build their home kitchen, but although its chic and modern in contrast to Annabel Langbein’s country kitchen and Peter Gordon’s urban flat kitchen, it was designed like theirs with functionality and sociability in mind.
“We were just desperate to have a kitchen that was totally social,” says Natalia. “Being able to put this kitchen in place has really changed our lives.”
The concept of a ‘Social Kitchen’ is a departure from the old mainstay of a ‘work triangle’ – a set distance between stove, sink and fridge – which has been around for centuries. Rather than being based on a rigid plan, the Social Kitchen is designed around people and households, transforming kitchens into places where people feel free to live and interact rather than just cook and do the dishes.
To achieve this, Carl and Natalie’s kitchen features enough bench space for them both to work, twin 60cm ovens rather than a traditional 90cm chef's oven, the gas hob and ovens integrated into the island so the couple never turn their backs on guests, a powerful extractor above the hob placed so it doesn't obscure eye contact with guests during conversations, and the couple’s favourite appliance, a Fisher & Paykel CoolDrawer™ placed near the end of the island, close to the dining table.
“Rather than having one big fridge, and everyone trying to get in and out of it at once, people can help themselves from the CoolDrawer™ and it frees up space for food in the fridge,” Carl says.
You don’t have to be a chef to enjoy your own ultimate foodie kitchen! At Pzazz Building, we understand what it takes to meet the style, function and social needs of modern cooking enthusiasts.
Contact us now for a free initial consultation with your local Pzazz Building expert.