Margaret Anne Ackerman
19 January 1945
Maggie Beer was born in Sydney in January 1945, to Ronald Ackerman, whose German ancestry was from his paternal grandparents, and Doreen Carter, who had 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 leave school to help the family at the age of 14 and worked in various jobs, including one as a lift 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". After relocating from Sydney to the Barossa Valley, Maggie and her husband Colin established the Farm Shop in 1979 which morphed into the Barossa Pheasant Farm Restaurant later that year. The restaurant became known for serving locally sourced pheasant as well as a pâté, known as Pheasant Farm Pate. In 1991 the restaurant was awarded the Remy Martin Cognac – Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant of the Year award. 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, Beer 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.
Beer has written books about food and food preparation, as well as co-authoring a book with noted cook, restaurateur and food writer 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 2018, Beer appeared as a guest quiz master on Have You Been Paying Attention?.
In 1997, Beer was the Telstra South Australian Business Woman of the Year.
In 2008, Maggie Beer won the Australian Publishers Association's illustrated 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, restaurateur and author, and to the promotion of Australian produce and cuisine".
In April 2016, Beer was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of South Australia in recognition of her achievements in tourism and hospitality, and to the promotion of Australian produce and cuisine.
She married Colin Beer on 17 January 1970 and they own a cottage home in the Barossa Valley in South Australia. She has two daughters, Saskia and Elli. Saskia died suddenly on 14 February 2020, aged 46.
- 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's Farm
- Maggie's Verjuice Cookbook
- Winter Harvest
- Maggie's Recipe For Life
- "Maggie Beer". Talking Heads. ABC. 6 March 2006. Archived from the original on 28 October 2009. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
- "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.
- "The Great Australian Bake Off: Maggie Beer & Matt Moran sign on as judges". Foxtel. 1 April 2015. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
- Knox, David (13 July 2015). "Claire Hooper, Mel Buttle to host The Great Australian Bake Off". TV Tonight. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
- "1997 Business Women's Awards". Telstra Business Women's Awards. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
- "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
- "Lecture series archive". Manning Clark House. 28 October 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
- It's an Honour: AM
- "South Australia’s good food champion honoured - UniSA Honorary Doctorate for Maggie Beer", Retrieved 17 May 2016
- Slessor, Camron (16 February 2020). "Saskia Beer, daughter of South Australian food icon Maggie Beer, dies unexpectedly in her sleep". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2 September 2020.