Maggie’s Passion Shines On
Maggie Beer is on a mission – to bring about life-altering change to the wellbeing of older Australians through food.
The renowned cook, food author and restaurateur established the Maggie Beer Foundation in 2014, to help older people, particularly those living in aged care homes, have access to “food full of flavour and nutrients”.
She was inspired to form her Foundation after she addressed a conference of 1000 aged care CEOs.
“I realised just how many passionate people there are involved in this industry, all of them trying to do what they can with limited resources to bring every part of the puzzle together to impact change in aged care, but it is a very complex tapestry to manage,” she says.
“It was my hope to pull all of the various specialist aspects of science, research, nutrition and management under the one umbrella; hence the Maggie Beer Foundation began.
“The wellbeing of those in aged care homes has been an ongoing concern of mine for a long time and I’m so happy to finally have found the time and people to support my passion.”
The Foundation runs Education Programs for industry professionals, brings together those wanting to make a change and benchmarks best practice with recognition for those doing great work.
“I truly believe everyone deserves to enjoy good food"
“There are a lot of seemingly everyday changes that I have noticed have had an equally positive impact; things like making meals times more social, starting gardens to grow fresh vegetables and herbs on site, allowing more autonomy of choice for residents when deciding on their meals.”
Maggie’s aim is to put some fresh thinking around nutritious ingredients, food budgeting, supplier relationships, aged care specific recipes, menus and dining room management.
“This was never going to be an easy road and so there have most certainly been challenges along the way, but the common denominator is that everyone involved can agree that change needs to happen, so we start from there.”
Maggie believes every meal should give comfort and pleasure, and that includes the social aspects of dining.
“When I think about the importance I place on my environment when I eat, or when I’m sharing a meal with people I care about, it makes absolute sense that the way food is prepared and brought to the table should be taken into consideration as a natural part of any meal,” she says.
“It is so important; equal to the food itself. And I see no reason for anyone to miss out on this aspect of pleasure when it comes to sharing the table. Choice is also so important – why should we not be able to influence choice over our food as we age?
What does food mean to you?
Superior seasonal produce is key to everything I create. Living in the Barossa Valley has certainly taught me a great deal about the rhythm of the seasons, how to delight in fruit and vegetables picked ripe and at their best, and how to maximise the potential of not only what can be grown here, but what is available in the wild too.
What is your fondest memory of food?
It was at an oyster bar in Paris – Colin and I shared a dozen oysters, large and ‘meaty’ and in perfect condition. They were served with brown bread; butter; lemon and a dish of red wine vinegar and eschalots chopped very finely. Colin had a glass of Sancerre and I chose a Chablis. These were both really good wines yet the marriage of the Chablis and oysters could not have been better.
What is your advice to older Australians?
Enjoy every morsel! Appreciation for good food should never be taken for granted. If you have space to grow any food, do so, even if it’s fresh herbs in a pot, gratitude for food seems to run in parallel with growing it I’ve found.