For Maggie, ‘good food is the starting point for all other aspects of life to follow suit’.
ONE of Bankstown's golden girls and our favourite celebrity cook, Maggie Beer, 72 grew up in Lakemba as Margaret Anne Ackermann, attending Bankstown East Primary School and Wiley Park Girls High School before blazing a trail as a food author, restaurateur and food manufacturer.
She got her first job as a receptionist at Jeldi Manufacturing, a carpet and textile company in Bankstown, travelled overseas and then returned, taking a job as assistant to the head of Ansett Airlines' General Aviation Division based at Bankstown Airport.
Maggie traces 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."
CINDY LYNCH asked her to share some of her secrets to ageing well:
How do you maintain your energy levels. Is it a combination of diet, exercise or is sleep a big priority?
"My approach to maintaining energy levels has always been to narrow down the things that I really love and ensure I make time for them each day.
"The joy of gardening, cooking to my favourite opera, or performing with our local singing group - these are the things that reinvigorate me and so I prioritise them, no matter how busy life can get around me."
If you are feeling lethargic, what is your go to pick-me-up? How important is attitude?
"I'm like most of us I'd imagine; when we are well, we are more likely to let our focus on health slip, but as soon as something falters it brings our attention back to just how precious our good health is.
"For any of us that have busy lives, not every home cooked meal is going to be a pleasurable way to spend time, but the ripple effect of eating well, and the wellbeing that comes with that, can't help but be appreciated over the feeling of grabbing something quick to eat in the car between appointments.
"I know each time I make the mistake of rushing any meal, I remind myself of just how wonderful it is to make the time to cook.
"For me, good food is the starting point to all other aspects of life following suit, especially a positive attitude."
Is there any such thing as someone who is naturally hopeless at cooking or can everyone give it a go? If so, what are a couple of easy dishes to start with?
"Erring on the side of diplomacy, I would say there are those less experienced than others when it comes to cooking, but I think anyone who loves good food can cook, given the time to become familiar with a few key techniques.
"A good place to start is with a simple pasta; based on a tomato and onion sauce with lots of fresh herbs, all that needs to be added before serving is a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
"I know when my husband Colin is left to his own devices, he will almost always rely on a cut of meat cooked on the barbecue, and a simple salad of whatever we might have in the garden - tomatoes, rocket, grated beetroot, or some kale or spinach wilted with a splash of Verjuice."
And how has the area changed that she grew up in?
"Lakemba was something of an industrial desert at the time but now of course, it's much more cosmopolitan!"
• Apart from her role as a judge on the ratings hit, 'The Great Australian Bakeoff' and her upcoming TV series on Japan, Maggie devotes her time and energy to the Maggie Beer Foundation which aims to improve aged care through better food and nutrition.
More info at maggiebeer.com.au