Annabel Rose Langbein

Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services as a food writer

Annabel Langbein says she's honoured and excited to see the value of home cooking and writing about food recognised at the highest level.

As of today Langbein is an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to food writing. Langbein was made an ONZM in the Queen's Birthday Honours list announced this morning.

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"For me, in a way it's an acknowledgement of how important food is in our society," she said.

"It's really exciting."

The best-selling author of 25 cookbooks and the host of three seasons of Annabel Langbein: The Free Range Cook on television, Langbein has been talking and writing about food and its central role in our lives since 1988.

Thirty years later, she still thinks home cooking made from fresh ingredients is key for happy, healthy lives and relationships.

"I've always believed food's this incredible connector. It connects us to nature, and the world around us, and to our own community and culture, and other cultures.

"When you cook it's a very simple way to build a good life."

In 1991, Langbein established the Culinary Institute of New Zealand, a specialist food-marketing consultancy, and promoted New Zealand food overseas as an ambassador for Trade New Zealand.

She believes being made an ONZM for food writing is a sign of the times - a reflection of the fact more of us are realising the importance of home cooking not only for our physical nourishment but for spiritual wellbeing and fostering social connections.

"It's a big honour," she said.

"This has been my career, to try and help excite and educate people and share the thing I've always found so potent in my own life.

"I have a big rally against this industrial food chain that's taking over our lives and I want to show people it's easy to cook.

"It doesn't need to be time-consuming or cost a lot of money and you can actually get a lot of pleasure out of it."

The Queen's Birthday Honours list is kept so hush hush Langbein hadn't told her husband, Ted Hewetson, about her inclusion before it was officially announced today.

She thought both he and the couple's two children, who are in their mid-20s and live overseas, would be very proud of her.

"We're a really tight family. It's a really special thing actually."

Langbein hoped to spend today celebrating by "cooking up a storm" at home - after so many years cooking professionally she still loves the process.

Langbein is also a much-loved food columnist.

She currently has a weekly spot in Canvas magazine - published each Saturday in the Weekend Herald - where she writes about food and shares recipes.

In 1988 she self-published her first book of recipes, Annabel Langbein's Cookbook, and has since become one of New Zealand's highest-selling authors.

Her 1997 book The Best of Annabel Langbein has sold more than half a million copies internationally and her books have topped New Zealand best-seller lists.

Overall she has sold more than two million books through her self-publishing imprint Annabel Langbein Media.

Langbein was a director of Kapiti Cheeses for seven years and is a member of the Sustainability Council of New Zealand.

She holds a Lincoln University Honorary Doctorate in Commerce, awarded in 2017, and received the Kea World Class New Zealand Award in 2013.

The Kea Awards recognise "world-leading Kiwis" who help define our national image overseas.

The New Zealand Order of Merit was instituted by Royal Warrant in May 1996.

The Order is awarded to those "who in any field of endeavour have rendered meritorious service to the Crown and the nation or who have become distinguished by their eminence, talents, contributions, or other merits".