Our Maggie makes magic
Picture: Supplied

She's the undisputed Queen of Australia's kitchens. Yet if it hadn't been for a bad back, Maggie Beer might today be a retired nurse rather than adored by millions - still going strong as a cook and businesswoman and showing no signs of slowing down.

"I contemplated taking up a career as a nurse for a brief time, studying nursing in Sydney," she said.

"But after a short while, a back injury put an end to my nursing career and I began to focus on building a career on my love of food, which took me to where I am today."

And that's at the very top of the culinary tree.

There are sexy celebrity chefs, cantankerous and cute ones, but Maggie Beer is the one TV celebrity viewers would like in their family as a favourite aunt.

She arrived at that exalted position by leaving school at 14 and becoming a self-taught cook.

"In retrospect, I'm glad that I left school and focused on my passion for cooking," she said.

Maggie Beer is a stalwart of the Good Food & Wine Show - she says she's lost count of the number of appearances - and will be a favourite at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre this year, too.

"One of the great parts of the show are the Good Food Theatre and Chef's Table, which allows me to interact with the passionate visitors who come each year wanting to learn more about seasonal produce and handy cooking tips," she said. "It's the reason I keep coming back year after year. From my time in the industry, meeting and speaking with people, I've found that there is such a passion and need to learn more and more about cooking and new techniques."

And this year?

"I love using fresh produce in my shows, and my appearances at the Good Food & Wine Show will be no different," she said.

"My sessions in the Good Food Theatre and Chef's Table will be about beautiful food that appeals to everyone, using fresh seasonal produce."

It might be hard to believe but early next year, Maggie Beer turns 70. Is it impolite to suggest that she might be considering putting her feet up and taking a well-earned break - maybe handing over the business reins to her daughters, Saskia and Elli? After all, the sisters already run a function centre called The Farm at Maggie Beer's famous Farm Shop in the Barossa Valley.

"I love what I do, and no way would I retire - why would I," she said. "My daughters have their own business, so who knows what will happen in the future."

Maggie Beer appears at the Seven West Good Food Theatre presented by Ilve at 10.45am and 3.15pm on Friday, July 11.

The West Australian

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