Australian Women’s Weekly NZ

Annabel’s new chapter ‘My Christmas miracle’

“I’m a hippie at heart, but God, do I love a dress-up!” exclaims Annabel Langbein, resplendent in a fire-engine red jumpsuit as a flock of festive elves – ahem, stylists – are adjusting the draped sleeves of the outfit. The floors of her elegant Auckland home are covered with decorations and wreaths as the Christmas table is placed outside. Her kitchen table is equally laden with all the accoutrements that come with setting up a scene like this – meringues, passionfruit curd, mince pies, fresh strawberries…

Of course, it’s Auckland, so the threat of rain is never far away and a stiff breeze ensures the candles have to be relit every 2.5 seconds. But it’s festive bedlam, which is a welcome break from the chaos that has swirled around us all this year. There is a very real sense that this Christmas, so many of us are clinging to the idea of seasonal festivities as a person out at sea might cling to a life preserver. We need something to celebrate.

It’s a very 2020 story for Annabel as well. This year has certainly been a mix of highs and lows. In her professional life, Annabel had a superb lockdown – she wrote her book, Bella: My Life in Food, a memoir crossed with recipes, a love story to food and the journey that brought her to where she is now. But on the family front, it’s been an emotional rollercoaster.

Annabel and her husband Ted Hewetson were safely tucked away in their Wanaka home, and with a vast and well-tended garden to cook from, there were no immediate issues there. But their two children, Sean, 28, and Rose, 26, were on separate sides of the world when the pandemic kicked off.

Rose is based in New York and the area she was staying in was hit hard by the riots that accompanied the mostly very peaceful Black Lives Matters protests held throughout the US. “They would wake up at night, smell smoke and wonder if

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