‘RETIREMENT ISN’T FOR ME’ Maggie Beer has no plans to slow down
The much-loved cook and food writer reflects on life in the culinary spotlight
Maggie Beer never set out to become a bona fide national treasure – one of our most beloved culinary writers, cooks and TV personalities. Rather, the chance to share her lifelong love of food has proven an unexpected but endless source of delight for the grandmother of six. “I didn’t plan to do television,” she admits. “It was just a passive periphery, but it’s been fun and definitely a happy accident. No-one gave me advice. I’ve always just been myself.” At 73, Beer, having achieved so much, could be forgiven for wanting to hang up her apron – in a professional sense. But as she reveals, she has no plans to retire – perhaps ever. “No, no – too much to do in life,” she chuckles. Indeed, a busier-than-ever Beer didn’t hesitate to appear alongside her long-time
friend, renowned landscape designer Paul Bangay, for the Foxtel special Inside Dame Elisabeth’s Garden. Filmed over a year to reveal the transforming beauty of each season, the Lifestyle show celebrates the 90th anniversary of the late Dame Elisabeth Murdoch’s adored Cruden Farm in Victoria.
“Coming to Cruden Farm was a very special thing for me, as I’d been a great admirer from afar of Dame Elisabeth Murdoch,” reflects Beer. “My first impression of walking up the driveway with my friend Paul was just an amazing experience. It was quite overwhelming, because there’s so much history here. It’s such a peaceful garden and so very special.”
Over the years, too, Beer has been a regular – and certainly a favourite – guest on Masterchef Australia. “I always like to do just one or two episodes – just enough to keep in touch with the brilliant young people on it,” she says. “It’s always great fun.”
That said, it’s clear nothing brings Beer more joy than spending time with her own family around a table laden with food. Hosting her growing clan at the home she shares with her husband of almost 50 years, Colin, in South Australia’s beautiful Barossa region, is “definitely my thing,” Beer says. “There’s a lot of chaos, though!” she adds with a laugh. “Most often, I’m asked by the family to make a roast chook with beautiful stuffing and fabulous salads. That’s what I call comfort food.”
Spending time in her garden is also extremely important to Maggie.
“I’m feeling sore and sorry from two days out there, but my absolute joy is to have time in my garden,” she says. “It’s very much a garden of vegetables and roses.
“I have a bad back and I had garden beds built up so I could easily garden, and that’s made all the difference to my life. Mind you, I was on my hands and knees over the weekend pulling weeds out of the rose garden! But I even love weeding.”
And perhaps that says much about Beer herself. As she reflects: “I’m a very positive person. I don’t ever wish for anything else other than enjoying my life to the full and contributing as much as I can.” Beer has always been one to look forward rather than back, embracing every opportunity with a joyous enthusiasm.
“I really wouldn’t do anything different, given my time again,” she tells WHO, her ever-present beaming smiling in place. “I’ve been very, very lucky.”
“No-one gave me [career] advice” —Maggie Beer
Ever-busy Maggie Beer co-presents the Foxtel special Inside Dame Elisabeth’s Garden.
Maggie says Colin, her husband of almost 50 years, has given her confidence in her cooking abilities.