‘I OWE MY CAREER TO MY HUSBAND’
She’s the grandmother we’d all love to claim as our own. And while Maggie Beer has long been one of our favourite chefs, there is one person who has been by her side through it all – her husband of almost half a century, Colin.
Maggie, 73, certainly doesn’t take Colin’s love and support for granted.
“He’s just the backbone – the cheeky backbone,” says Maggie with a smile. “He’s the quiet achiever ... but not quiet! I could not ever have done what I’ve done without him. We’ll be married 49 years in January, and he still makes me laugh.”
Are the couple, who have two daughters, Saskia and Elli, and six grandchildren, planning a special celebration to mark their 50th wedding anniversary? “Oh yes, we will, and with all of the family,” says Maggie. “It will also be my 75th birthday then, so it will be a double whammy!”
Family has always been everything to Maggie and Colin, who call South Australia’s beautiful Barossa region home.
“I’m very lucky that my daughters and grandchildren live in the Barossa, and my eldest grandson is only 20 minutes away,” she says. “They’re very much part of our life. Gosh, I’m just so lucky!
“My only struggle is fitting everything into my life and being away from the Barossa,” she continues, admitting: “I don’t relish that. I’m a homebody.”
It seems, too, that some of the grandchildren, aged between 22 and four, have inherited Maggie’s passion for cooking.
“Well, the three eldest are very much into it, but let’s see – let’s see what happens,” she says. “I just love when they come around together. Now they cook for me and Colin sometimes, and that’s even better. They’re very adventurous and they know food. It’s just a delight that they’re in the kitchen. I don’t think it’s ever too young for children to start in the kitchen. From the age of two, mine have had something to do with the kitchen.
“I still love to cook as well – life’s far too short not to!” Maggie adds, with a laugh.
“For me, it starts with the vegetables in my garden. I love vegetables and that sets the tone – what’s in season. On the weekend, I had artichokes, leeks and golden beet from the garden and that became the basis for dinner.”
Clearly, life isn’t showing any signs of slowing down for Maggie, who co-hosts with landscape designer Paul Bangay the stunning new one-hour Foxtel special, Inside Dame Elisabeth’s Garden.
Marking the 90th year of the late Dame Elisabeth Murdoch’s treasured Cruden Farm in Victoria, the Lifestyle premiere sees Maggie exploring the truly glorious outdoor grounds, left by Dame Elisabeth – the mother of Rupert who died in 2012, aged 103 – as a space for public reflection and enjoyment.
With Paul by her side, Maggie then heads back to her home in the Barossa Valley to create a memorable garden party menu in honour of the milestone event.
“I’d never been to Cruden Farm before, so it’s been so special for me, and I was delighted to be involved,” she says. “It’s been lovely working with Paul, too. He’s been a friend for a long time and his memories of knowing Dame Elisabeth and his knowledge of the garden were really special.
“Dame Elisabeth’s legacy is her work with communities and charities. She gave so much, yet she was so down-to-earth. She wanted to share what she had.”
“I’M VERY LUCKY THAT MY DAUGHTERS AND GRANDCHILDREN LIVE IN THE BAROSSA”
Maggie is grateful for her husband and children (above).