One thing every mother hopes to do is pass down her own wisdom and values to her daughter, which is something Annabel Langbein has certainly done for her daughter Rose.
But in a wonderful twist on tradition, Annabel, 64, is now receiving a boost of creativity and energy from Rose, 28, which has been a springboard for Annabel to create and diversify when she might otherwise be slowing down.
Already the mother/daughter team has collaborated on successful cookbook Summer at Home and now Rose has new plans for her famous mum.
“I have a lot of energy,” laughs Rose as she talks to the Weekly on her screen from Auckland. She is a beautiful young woman, and the picture of health and vitality.
“It’s exciting for Mum because she was starting to wind down. Then I was in New York and suggested that we do something together – and since then, I’ve been driving the charge forward.”
When Annabel joins us on her screen from her home in Wānaka, Rose explains that she and her mother bring different strengths to their work. Her mother is an “OG hippie”, she says. (A quick Google later to clarify it means “old-school hippie”.)
Rose explains, “Mum has so much knowledge about plants and food, and she understands the chemistry and science of it.
“I was a young, liberal arts student studying philosophy and ethics in Melbourne, so I have learned more about the world we’re living in. I’ve become increasingly concerned about environmental issues, so I became vegetarian, although I now eat some seafood, and have always been passionate about sustainable practices, so I have come at it from that perspective.”
“It’s been exciting to have that in our collaboration,” she enthuses. “I’ll take Rose’s lead on creative ideas because I’m being stimulated by that. But the nuts and bolts I can teach her because I’ve got that in spades.”
“And I think you’re enjoying it,” adds Rose. “Well, I hope so!”
The two of them laugh because Annabel says Rose can be a bit demanding and will often issue instructions like, “I need 10 more recipes by the end of the day!”
Annabel says she needed to adjust to not working solo.
“In the beginning, I had a sense of feeling slightly redundant,” she admits. “I don’t think she had ever imagined I would feel like that, but I was able to communicate what I was going through and we worked it out.”
Rose says she got it immediately. “It’s important to understand the value of other generations. That knowledge brought so much to the way we work.”
Annabel says that after being “Annabel Langbein” for so many years, it is quite nice having someone take over some of those reins.
“I love it!” she says. “I feel like we’re making this really nice segue where Rose can take this thing somewhere if she wants to and if she doesn’t, that’s fine.”
One thing Annabel loves about her daughter is that Rose is resourceful. She is one of those people who can take a can of something and create a meal out it, she says.
“When she was travelling in Portugal, she would sleep in the back of a station wagon with these two Columbian girls, and they were living on a can of beans, a can of corn and not much else,” says Annabel proudly.
“Well, we also had an onion, an avocado, a lime and some lettuce if we were lucky,” laughs Rose. “Fortunately, the other two girls were quite small, so we could fit in the station wagon and when we returned the car, we hadn’t had a shower for two weeks and there was all this dried-up corn everywhere. It was so embarrassing.”
The working partnership between Annabel and Rose has led to them being possibly this country’s first mother/daughter team to become ambassadors for the appliance brand Kenwood, which Annabel has been using since she was a child.
Annabel talks fondly of her own mixer from the ’70s, which she still has and uses.
“That Kenwood was this wonderful glue – my mother had it, then I got it, then I taught Rose how to cook with it. There’s a wonderful picture we have of Rose when she was really little licking the beaters,” she says.
“That was really how I started baking because Mum would get me inside from the garden, where I was always ruining it by pulling plants out or making mud pies. Suddenly, I was helping her roll out pastry and inadvertently I learned to cook. It’s a simple way to feel successful as a young child.”
Rose says it was the same for her. She started baking with Annabel when she was aged 10, and would have all her girlfriends over for a sleepover and out would come the trusty mixer.
“That was a really fun thing we did making chocolate chip cookie batter and we would bake one big cookie the size of my head.”
Annabel admits she now has a brand-new model, but when she uses it, she covers up the old one so it can’t see her lack of loyalty.
Rose has inherited her mother’s love of travel and it was no surprise to learn that both of them were about to fly off to Europe in a few days. Rose to Lisbon to live and Annabel to the South of France for a holiday until September.
Rose has been living back in New Zealand since late 2020 after the first wave of Covid in New York. She and her boyfriend Hamish left New York to return to New Zealand for a short while, which ended up being over a year.
Hamish works for Paramount Pictures as a design director and has continued to work for them staying on New York time while he’s been here in New Zealand. So he will continue to do that in Lisbon and Rose will continue to work with her mum.
The young star leaves behind a very stylish website she has produced for Annabel and there is another book in the pipeline.
“I love that Rose has a really clear vision for us, which comes, I think, from her working in marketing in New York for three years,” tells Annabel. “She also has a fantastic design ethos, which makes such a difference.”
Rose says when it comes to the Annabel Langbein brand, it is essentially the family’s, representing all the values they have: her father Ted’s love of the land from his farming background and insistence on leaving it better than how they found it, to Annabel’s amazing gardening and cooking skills, and Rose’s love of sustainability and protecting the environment.
Rose says she loved working on Annabel’s gin brand Bella, which allowed her to play around a bit.
“We just threw caution to the wind and had a lot of fun because it was so liberating.”
The first batch of Bella gin sold out, and so Annabel managed to find someone who had 15 tonnes of plums and made another batch.She says it has 18 different aromatics added to the plums, which makes the gin “velvety and nuanced”.
Meanwhile, Annabel and Ted are heading to London, and then France, with the intention of buying a farmhouse there.
Their son Sean, who was working as a doctor in the UK during the worst of the Covid outbreak, has managed to return home to see his family, much to Annabel’s relief. But now he is back in London and so his parents will pop in on him before heading to France.
For the family, it is very much a post-Covid plan. Both children will be living overseas from now on and Annabel says it was hard not seeing Sean for so long.
So with a place in France, they can spend more time on the same continent as their beloved kids.
“We’re not leaving New Zealand though, because we feel really lucky to live here,” insists Annabel. “I look out my window now, and I can see the lake and all the autumn colours that I love, but it’s nice to think about expanding my life.”
Before Annabel can leave, however, she has her garden to harvest. She has been very busy making 20 litres of ratatouille and bottles of stewed apple, which all went into the freezer. Then there was chilli jam and a whole lot of peppers to deal with which she got from a friend.
“The thing I miss most about home is Mum’s vegetables,” shares Rose. “They are so delicious, and completely organic and better than anything else I can find.”
She says last time Annabel came up to Auckland, she brought a chilly bin full of vegetables for Rose.
Annabel says best of all, her winter garden will flourish while she is away and she knows that when she comes home, it will still be there for her to enjoy.