Premier Mike Rann says he’s delighted that South Australian businesswoman, farmer, exporter and champion of good food, Maggie Beer, has been declared Senior Australian of the Year in this year’s Australia Day celebrations.
“Maggie is a great Australian who has been one of the pioneers of promoting South Australia’s fresh food industry.
“She has for many years been promoting our local fresh food produce to the rest of the country – and the world – through her Barossa Valley restaurant, food business, her culinary skills, her hallmark pates, verjuice and ice creams, her books and her television programs.
“She has taught the rest of Australia that good food starts with good food production in the garden.
“She would best be described as the maestro of great taste.
“In all that she has done over many years to promote our food industry – she has always maintained that good cooking and good eating starts with preservative-free fresh, nutritious produce.
“Her warmth, good humour, vitality and obvious talents for delicious creativity are what makes Maggie such a popular South Australian and a great ambassador for our State.”
Mr Rann has also congratulated the other South Australian finalists in the other Australian of the Year categories including:
Australian of the Year finalist – Julian Burton OAM – Charity founder (Adelaide),
Young Australian of the Year Finalist SA – Danielle Catanzariti – Actor (Murray Bridge) and Australia’s Local Hero finalist – Mike Coddington – Volunteer fire fighter (Murray Bridge)
“All of South Australia’s finalists in this year’s awards were very deserving of these awards, and I am delighted that three of this year’s finalists are from regional South Australia,” Mr Rann said.
Maggie Beer, originally from Sydney, worked and travelled overseas in an amazing variety of jobs from a Lift Driver in a New Zealand department store to the Assistant to the Senior Geophysicist for British Petroleum in Libya.
Returning home in 1968 and well before becoming immersed in the world of food, she was employed in fields as diverse as light aircraft, Citizenship Law for the American Embassy and House Management at the Women’s College of Sydney University.
Her marriage to Colin in 1970 led them to the Barossa Valley where they began pheasant breeding and grape growing. The establishment of the Pheasant Farm was the start of a career that now spans farming, food production, exporting, food writing and television presenting.
In 1991 her Pheasant Farm Restaurant won the Remy Martin Cognac/Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant of the Year. She also won Telstra Business Woman of the Year in 1997 and the Jaguar/Australian Gourmet Traveller Award of Excellence in 1999. In 2001 Maggie was presented with the Food Media Club’s Industry Peer Award.
Maggie has written seven books in total, drawing on her own philosophy of quality produce and the pleasures of the table – Maggie’s Farm, Maggie’s Orchard and Maggie’s Table. The latter won the Best Regional Cook Book in English in 2001, and then against all other languages, replicated its success in the Gourmand World Cook Book Awards in Perigord, France. In 2003 Maggie’s Table was also awarded the Australian Food Media Award for Best Hardcover Recipe Book.
It was a natural extension, with her passion for food and food writing, that Maggie should find herself in front of the camera in her own television series on the ABC, The Cook and The Chef with Chef Simon Bryant. It showcased her home region and the people who supply her with the produce she has used to create her culinary reputation.
At the 2008 Australian Food Media Awards, Maggie Beer won the inaugural Lifestyle Food Channel’s People’s Choice Award and The Cook and The Chef won the Sizzler Bernard King Award for Best Television Food Segment.