"Crazy chef" Annabelle White with a squeeze of lemon juice

Posted by Karen Miller, Alumni Relations and Development, University of Auckland on 11 July 2023

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Quips and tips abounded from firecracker foodie and self-proclaimed “crazy chef” Annabelle White at the recent HOPE Foundation High Tea at the Selwyn Library in Parnell on 9 July 2023.

Dr Maree Todd with Annabelle White

Dr Maree Todd introduces Annabelle White

“Kiwis seem to be taking themselves a bit more seriously and suffering some general malaise post pandemic”, declared White – the celebrity cook was there to shake things up and remind her audience how to have fun while entertaining. 

Geriatrician Dr Maree Todd, who is Chair of the Board for The HOPE Foundation for Research on Ageing, kicked off proceedings by informing the packed venue that all proceeds from this Friends of HOPE fundraising event go towards scholarships to support New Zealand University students engaged in research into ageing.

Taking a moment out from caring for own older parents who are 90-plus, Annabelle shared her philosophy that “love is food and food is love” while giving her recipe for living a happy, contented life.  She had the Friends of HOPE audience laughing and winning an array of “mad cap” spot prizes (like chocolate, prunes and tea towels) as she regaled them with a barrage of amusing tales from her long career in the kitchen.

Annabelle, who has a love of “great honest cooking” and eleven cookbooks under her belt, gave some top tips which ranged from how to “shop smarter” through to simplifying your dinner party menus. The crowd learnt how to “fake it, til you make it” and an acceptable “cheat” to take the stress out of Christmas Day. Without wishing to give away all Annabelle’s best advice, we can share that even a squeeze of lemon juice can be a “secret weapon” when it comes to elevating a dish such as pumpkin soup.  Not sure that we will all be running around the kitchen yelling “Gobble, gobble, gobble” or greeting our guests with a head torch and a chef’s knife as demonstrated by Annabelle, but our dinner parties would certainly be more interesting and lively if we did.

The Friends of HOPE put their own culinary skills on display through a delectable afternoon tea and one lucky guest took home a wonderful “liquid refreshment” raffle prize. The event was topped off by a queue of happy guests, having a chance to chat to Annabelle as they lined up for a signed copy of her latest recipe book; and knowing that all present had helped contribute to an organisation dedicated to helping prepare New Zealand for an ageing future. Sign up for our newsletters to hear more about the next Friends of HOPE event.


Table bouquet featuring limes and chillis - suitable for an Annabelle talk

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St Stephens library has character, as did our guest Annabelle

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  • Spreading the word about what we do / share this newsletter
  • Donating your time to the Friends Supporters to help with fundraising and committee work
  • Encouraging your children and grandchildren to invest in their futures by donating time and money (a baby girl born today has a 1 in 3 chance of living to 100 , a boy 1 in 4 and is likely to be fitter and healthier–think about the implications of that)
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