Nov 29, 2015
Annabel Crabb once put a laptop in the oven and it wasn’t even the worst thing she’s ever cooked.
Rare culinary slip-ups aside, the host of Kitchen Cabinet is brilliant at mastering recipes (she’s just released an excellent cookbook, after all). And her food-transporting game is pretty strong, too – for her ABC TV show, she once carried a honey fig semifreddo cake to Senator Nick Xenophon’s place, with zero melting tragedies. Getting serving implements through airport security is another matter, though. “You try and take a cake fork anywhere – you’re in massive trouble,” she says.
Despite this obstacle, it’s impressive what Annabel is able to achieve on her cooking show, despite not having a traditional studio kitchen set-up. She’s so savvy that she once managed to make ice cream in a hotel room.
Taking dessert to someone – the premise of her show – can act as a great Trojan horse for getting into sought-after places (such as Joe Hockey’s “notorious” share house, where former opposition leader Brendan Nelson lived in a shed for $80 a week; “it’s the funniest, weirdest story,” she says).
Food to make and take is the focus of her great new cookbook, Special Delivery (Murdoch Books), which she’s co-written with her Kitchen Cabinet recipe consultant and life-long friend, Wendy Sharpe.
Food offerings can be a not-so-secret code, a direct message that conveys a lot – as Annabel explains in the book, sometimes it can mean ‘Congratulations’ or ‘I come in peace’ (to politicians) or ‘Lord, this meeting might be grim – let’s have some cake while we’re at it’.
In the podcast, she says: “Often when you’re in situations where you can’t think of anything else to say to somebody – like when maybe they’ve had a death in the family or they’re very sad about something and you’ve run out of the constructive things to say – sometimes you take something that shows, in a wordless way, that you’re thinking about them.”
It can also be fun, too. And her cookbook includes a recipe for a soufflé you can travel with and advice on how to present haloumi without the ‘am I eating a cold thong?’ feeling.
During this podcast, Annabel also covers the extreme lengths she endured in making a relevant dessert for Motoring Enthusiast Party Senator Ricky Muir for this season of “Kitchen Cabinet” (donuts, as it turned out, were impossible to pull off). She also shares a funny behind-the-scenes revelation about serving Clive Palmer a cake that would have been served on the Titanic.
It was delightful to chat to Annabel – and I love that a Canberra journalist who landed a “accidental second career as the host of a political cooking show” would end up being the person who talks most extensively about food out of everyone I’ve interviewed on this podcast.