Meeting Maggie Beer

We think Maggie Beer is one of the most affable, jolly and grandmotherly figures in the food world, and she was exactly that in person!!! Soy and I were so excited about this dinner because we were really excited about meeting Maggie Beer. And it was a really good cause too, with the funds raised from the dinner going to Manning Clark House. Maggie Beer was chosen to deliver this year’s annual Dymphna Clark lecture, and the title of her lecture was Domestic Harvest.

I recently heard Janet Jeffs speak at the Australian Science Festival Food Speaker Series and I was intrigued with her ideas and philosophy about food (returning to real food and not being afraid of REAL butter!) so I was looking forward to seeing the menu she created for this event. Yes, this was a bit of a starstruck moment for Soy and I, and we of course, took the ubiquitous we-really-met-Maggie shot with wide smiles on our faces.

We also got a sneak peek of the dishes that were coming up, and had a chat to Janet about her inspiration for the dishes for the night. Soy and I are huge seafood fans and so I was looking forward to the seafood entree! Janet explained that she wanted to showcase the fact that Canberra, though being landlocked, still has pretty good seafood from the inland river confluences and the South Coast. For the main, she recreated a kangaroo pie that Maggie once served, and all I could think about was Maggie’s famous pheasant pie and how Soy was absolutely salivating when watching that episode of Masterchef.

So now, to the food….. I’ve been thinking about how to write this post for the longest time, because the dinner being a fundraiser for a good cause, and Maggie Beer and Janet Jeffs lending their names to it, we so badly wanted it to be amazing. Unfortunately, we were disappointed with the food, and there’s no two ways about it. I really wish it were otherwise- I can’t stress this enough, because even for us, we thought it was a really special event put together by many special people. But, we have to be true to our tastebuds and experience, and I will try and present it as fairly as possible.

Oysters with verjuice vinaigrette, Crab rillettes on croutons, Escabeche of snapper with remoulade salad, Smoked trout on potato pancake, Yabby ceviche on baby salad leaves

The entrees were on the tables as we entered. This was my favourite course of the night, and I found the seafood fresh, and their flavours refreshing. The oyster was a tad warm, but the crab was the standout. It was like a morsel of massive crab flavour packed into it.

Quail on a cabbage roll of pork and chestnut, Kangaroo tail pie, Slow braised beef cheeks with black olives and Canberra shiraz

So as I mentioned, the entree plates were on the table as people sat down for dinner (7.30pm). This was followed by a number of speeches, information about the dinner and the wines and the menu, and Dymphna and Manning Clark, and then Maggie delivered her lecture. While these speeches were interesting and funny and held my attention, the lack of food on the table and lack of wine in our glasses was not something we could ignore. The rumbles in our tummies then also became hard to ignore, and mains were served at 9.45pm. Say what you will about eating etiquette in between speeches, but a more than 2 hour gap in between courses is just not acceptable. The photo is of my plate, and the food looks really good, but 2 of our friends at the table had burnt pies, that frankly should not have made it over the pass, and should have gone straight in the bin. The pie, we all felt, had too little filling in it, so we didn’t really taste the kangaroo. The quail was cold as well. I actually gobbled up the cabbage roll because it was warm and substantial. With 290 guests that night, Soy and I were wondering if it was understandable that the kitchen was having some problems, but we then thought, no, Ginger Catering is well…. catering, so shouldn’t they be used to catering for large groups? I’m not sure…. Plus, though it was for fundraising, at $120 per person, one would still like a reasonable meal.

The wines were donated by Rockford Wines, and they were awesome! Our dining companions are wine aficionados, but they were really unhappy with the wine service. As Uncle K said, he hates it when there’s wine poured, and no food, and by the time the food arrives, there’s not enough wine left in your glass to enjoy them together.

Dessert is the course I look forward to the most, and I think I’ve never left my dessert uneaten, ever but I have to admit that I didn’t finish this charlotte. I found the taste of the lemon curd in the sponge very one-dimensional, and my sponge was dry. Soy told me that her sponge was moist, and yes, it was more moist than mine. I couldn’t finish my charlotte, but I really liked the tuile with black pepper! And I loved the grapefruit and orange segments as they were really refreshing.

Soy and I will always remember this night not for the food, unfortunately, but as the night we met Maggie Beer. We also took home some bay leaves and lemons from the edible centrepieces, and put them to good use!

So tell me, which celebrity chef would you most like to meet?

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  • Michelle Chin

    WAH!!!!! I never attended such things before!

  • Hannah Terry-Whyte

    Oh, how sad! :( But at least it was memorable in a *good* way in terms of meeting those clever women!

  • Anonymous

    What a shame on the food issue. You would think they would have got it together a bit better than that. Burnt food for this type-and price- of function is unforgiveable!
    If those oysters were a bit warm, I shudder to think how long they’d been sitting out at room temperature.

  • Celia

    What a shame the food wasn’t quite up to scratch. But getting to meet Maggie Beer – what a thrill! :)

  • Celeste @ Berrytravels

    Oh how amazing that you got to meet Maggie Beer. Though the food was a let down, I’m sure the experience of meeting Maggie Beer in person wasn’t! I think I’d most love to meet Hestons. He is the one chef that has excite me like no other!

  • Iron Chef Shellie

    Oh wow!! how exciting =D If I met her I’d probably tell her how much i love her quince jelly :P

  • Lollcakes

    It must have been frustrating with the food, but meeting Maggie must have been fantastic!
    I would love to meet James Martin. I leared a lot of what I know from watching him on television…

  • Ellie

    Wow! What a special occasion! I love Maggie Beer :)

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    What a delightful event and how exciting that you got to meet Maggie Beer! She seems like such a lovely lady!