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.

He publishes something of a magnum opus, Meals Matter: A Radical Economics through Gastronomy with Columbia University Press in the first half of 2020.

Among his main previous works, One Continuous Picnic is a gastronomic history of Australia (originally 1982, expanded 2007); The Shared Table (1993) explains 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), 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 his PhD in the “sociology of cuisine” from Flinders University of SA. Living in Wellington New Zealand from 2001-2007, he joined Helen Leach as a Marsden Fund investigator of cookery books, and became an expert on flat whites.

A follower of Epicurus and Brillat-Savarin, and convinced of the many insights still to be provided by gastronomy, he’s completing a gastronomy or “diner’s sense” of economics. This has taken so long to research and write, it must provide some mighty challenge to mainstream thinking.

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

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