‘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

WHO - - Contents - By Jackie Brygel

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.

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