Michael Symons


Michael Brooke Symons, B.Sc., Ph.D. (born Adelaide, 1945) is the author of books and research papers on a wide range of meal topics.

His magnum opus is Meals Matter: A Radical Economics through Gastronomy (Columbia University Press, 2020).

Among other works, One Continuous Picnic is a gastronomic history of Australia (originally 1982, expanded 2007); The Shared Table: Ideas for Australian Cuisine (1993) examines food authenticity and more; and A History of Cooks and Cooking (originally 1998) explains how cooks made civilisation.

Michael Symons started out as an environmental journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald (1967-1973), worked briefly in ABC radio and in the Whitlam government, joined three other expatriates to open the Cantina di Toia restaurant in Bacchereto (FI) in Tuscany, and then became a partner with Jennifer Hillier in the Uraidla Aristologist restaurant in the Adelaide Hills from 1981 for 15 years.

He instigated the highly influential Symposiums of Australian Gastronomy in 1984, and, in the same year, set out on PhD in the “sociology of cuisine” from the Flinders University of SA (awarded 1992). Living in Wellington New Zealand from 2001-2007, he initiated gastronomic symposiums there, joined Helen Leach as a Marsden Fund investigator of cookery books, becoming an expert on flat whites.

An advocate of Epicurus and Brillat-Savarin, and convinced of the major insights still to be had by gastronomy, he took so long with his gastronomy of economics that it would surely have to thoroughly challenge orthodoxies.

He married Professor Marion Maddox in 1995, and they are based back in Sydney.

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