I first met Maggie Beer when I was Executive Officer for the chestnut association. We spent an hour on the phone talking chestnuts and this resulted in me being quoted in her book “Maggie’s Orchard”. Over the years we have become friends and spend a few days together each year when we attend the trade show Foodex in Japan. Her recipe for quail and chestnuts was a result of her experimenting on the stand using our chestnuts, her verjuice and Game Farm quail.
Maggie was originally a Sydney girl, having grown up in the western suburbs where her parents owned a manufacturing business. Leaving school at far too tender an age for proper education, Maggie worked in a startling number of jobs searching for her niche, spending many years travelling overseas before settling in South Australia’s Barossa Valley in 1973 with her husband Colin where both their daughters were born.
The establishment of the Pheasant Farm, and the restaurant it led to, was the start of a career that now spans farming, export, food production and food writing.
There have been lots of awards over the years from those first heady days when in 1991 the Pheasant Farm Restaurant won the Remy Martin Cognac/Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant of the year – more business related accolades including Telstra Business Woman of the Year in 1997 and the Jaguar/Australian Gourmet Traveller Award of excellence in 1999 and then in 2001 was overwhelmed to be presented with the Food Media Club’s Industry Peer Award.
Maggie has published five books in all – Maggie’s Farm and Maggie’s Orchard her first books capturing her seasons of the Valley. Her Italian cooking school experiences with her great friend, Stephanie Alexander, were chronicled in Stephanie’s and Maggie’s Tuscan Cook Book and has been an award winning publication, now translated into six languages. Her fascination with verjuice resulted in compiling the book, Cooking with Verjuice published by Penguin and Grubstreet. Her latest book, Maggie’s Table, was winner of the Best Regional Cook Book (in English) in the Gourmand World Cook Book Awards at Perigord, France, as soon as it was published. Then to her absolute delight the book was voted Best Hard Cover Recipe Book in the Food Media Club this year.
Life is more than full – being ‘nonna’ to four beautiful grandchildren, trying to juggle her life with Colin, having time for her family, and run her business in the Barossa with a staff of forty, which is growing at such a pace it’s sometimes frightening. Yet Maggie still finds time for fun and is acutely aware she is needing to bring much more balance in her life. Back to Blog