Maggie Beer was born Margaret Ann Ackermann in Sydney in January 1945, to Ronald Ackermann, who has German ancestry from his paternal grandparents, and Doreen Carter, who has English ancestry from her maternal great-grandparents. Her father's ancestors lived in Hill End located in regional New South Wales and were gold miners. Beer believed they were Jewish, but this was refuted in an episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, as it emerged that her ancestors had been Catholic for as long as there were records.
She grew up with her family in Sydney's western suburbs. Beer's parents faced issues with bankruptcy as she was growing up and re-invented themselves as caterers. She stated this contributed to her strong work ethic later in life. Beer did not complete her high school education, instead choosing to drop out at age 14 and worked in various different jobs, including one as a elevator operator in a New Zealand department store and an assistant to a senior geophysicist for British Petroleum in Libya before returning to Sydney in 1968. Beer has traced her passion for food to her childhood: "Food was vital; there was a real interest in food and its quality and an obsession with freshness. Cooking was just accepted, it was part of the norm."
Despite not having any formal training as a chef, Beer has accumulated a triumphant career spanning almost five decades. Her only paid cooking job was at a Scottish sailing school during a European trip in her early twenties. She stated: "I used the whole of their larder for the four-month season in eight weeks because I'm a very generous cook, that's the only way I know how to cook". Maggie and her husband Colin established the Barossa Pheasant Farm Restaurant in 1978 in the Barossa Valley after relocating from Sydney to South Australia. The restaurant became known for serving pheasant (which was raised locally) as well as a pate, known as Pheasant Farm Pate. Maggie and Colin operated the hugely successful restaurant until 1993. Later, she became a partner in the Charlick's Feed Store restaurant in Ebenezer Place, located in the Adelaide city centre.
Currently, Maggie operates a business in the Barossa which produces a range of gourmet foods, including Pheasant Farm Pate, quince paste, verjuice and gourmet ice creams. She co-hosted the ABC television cooking program The Cook and the Chef with Simon Bryant, who is the Head Chef for the Hilton, Adelaide. She has also appeared several times as a guest judge and guest masterclass presenter on MasterChef Australia.
Maggie has written several books about food and food preparation, as well as co-authoring a book with noted chef Stephanie Alexander. One of her co-written books, Stephanie Alexander and Maggie Beer's Tuscan Cook, has been translated into five different languages. In 2012 she participated in Who Do You Think You Are, a show which uncovered a convicted bigamist in her family history.
In 2008, Maggie Beer won the Australian Publishers Association's llustrated Book of the Year for Maggie's Harvest.
In the Australia Day Honours of 2012, Maggie Beer was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), "for service to the tourism and hospitality industries as a cook, restauranteur and author, and to the promotion of Australian produce and cuisine".
Beer married Colin Beer in 1970 and the two own a cottage home in the Barossa Valley. She has two daughters, Saskia and Ellie.
- Cooking With Verjuice
- Stephanie Alexander and Maggie Beer's Tuscan Cookbook
- Maggie's Table
- Maggie's Harvest
- Maggie's Kitchen
- Maggie's Orchard
- Maggie's Christmas
- "Maggie Beer's Who Do You Think You Are? page". SBS Television. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
- "Who do you think you are? Maggie Beer (Episode 5)". SBS. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
- "Maggie's Biography" (PDF). Australia 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
- Schmidt, Linda (30 January 2008). "Profile: Maggie Beer". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
- "Season 2 episodes | Who Do You Think You Are on SBS". Retrieved 7 January 2014.
- "Maggie Beer". It's an Honour: Centenary Medal. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
- "Brooks wins Book of the Year award", The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 June 2008
- "Senior Australian of the Year", Retrieved 25 January 2011
- It's an Honour: AM
- Maggie Beer's website
- ABC profile
- ABC TV: The Cook and the Chef
- Maggie Beer discussing her recent book, Maggie's Harvest at the State library of Queensland
- Video of Maggie Beer discussing Maggie's Harvest from Penguin Group (Australia)