Is the ability to self-promote an innate talent or something that has to be learned? Pity the poor TV chef who isn't attractive (particularly if female; Gordon Ramsay has shown that you can suffer the cruellest teenage acne and rise above it), articulate (even Jamie Oliver could lisp for England), or, failing all else, self-mocking (Two Fat Ladies).
It also helps of course to inhabit a rather lovely place. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall makes me want to live in the country till I remember the number of doughnut-shaped tyre marks on our wide rural streets. Nigella Lawson (who, I read recently, gives the fact that she was abused by her mother as the reason for her incessant flirtatiousness) has various gorgeous kitchens.
And our very own blonde Nigella, Annabel Langbein, is beamed to us from a darling cottage on the stunning shores of glittering Lake Wanaka, in a perfectly pleasant half-hour (Annabel Langbein: The Free Range Cook, TV One, 7pm, Saturday) spent in an overt publicising of her own recipe books, which, she tells us, make perfect gifts.
There's just a hint of the Prue and Trude about Langbein, but that, too, is par for the course. Somewhere in TV-land someone has decided that modestly posh presents best when it comes to cooking. OK, there's always Jamie, but even young royals share his casual use of the glottal stop. Langbein had a wonderfully wild young womanhood, in a Barry Crump(et)-slaughtering- possums-in-the-backblocks sort of way, but now she's got her lovely place by the lake, probably one of those vast vehicles that inch perilously around the narrow streets of Wellington, and has been feted at the book fair in Frankfurt.
Her recipes are good; not too difficult, wholesome and tasty, glamorous in a manageable way. I'm going to make that chicken and leeks one.
She has friends who own hazelnut farms and when she wants to cook artichokes for a crowd she can effortlessly harvest a bucketload from her own garden. You can make a good living out of good living, so if it comes naturally, why wouldn't you give it a go?
ONE TO WATCH
Dear old David Attenborough is still at it, spying on Africa's migrating wildebeest at 8.30 on TV One tonight. while Jamie Cooks Christmas at the same time on Prime.
- The Dominion Post