Michael Austin is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine, beer and travel. His articles and essays have appeared in some of the country's most prestigious publications, including Esquire, GQ, Outside and the Chicago Tribune Magazine. A national James Beard Award finalist for magazine feature writing, he is the wine columnist for the Chicago Tribune, and the former wine and beer columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. He collaborated with Oprah Winfrey's personal chef, Art Smith, on the cooking and lifestyle book Back to the Family, which won the Special Award of the Jury at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in Beijing; and with Bay Area cardiologist and New York Times best-selling author Dr. Dean Ornish on The Spectrum. For the Chicago Public Schools, Austin co-authored The Chicago Guide for Teaching and Learning in the Arts. He also has edited and written for travel guides published by Frommer's, Fodor's and Time Out. Austin's poem “Hancock O’Hare” was included in City of the Big Shoulders: An Anthology of Chicago Poetry; and his short stories have appeared in Puerto del Sol and Printers Row Journal.
In addition to being a writer, Austin is a musician and a faculty member of Chicago's esteemed Old Town School of Folk Music, where he teaches bodhran, the Irish traditional drum. He has been a featured performer at several major music festivals, including the Ennis Traditional Music Festival in County Clare, Ireland; Celtic Fest Chicago; Taste of Chicago and Milwaukee Irish Fest. He has recorded and performed in venues large and small--from cozy pubs to Chicago's Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center--with some of the world’s most renowned Irish musicians, including Liz Carroll, Laurence Nugent, Maurice Lennon (Stockton's Wing), Deirdre Scanlan (Solas), John Williams (Solas), Jimmy Keane (Green Field of America, Bohola), Dennis Cahill (Hayes & Cahill), Kathleen Keane (Gaelic Storm), Liz Knowles (Riverdance), and Carlos Nunez, "the 7th Chieftain." A founding member of the Irish traditional band The Boils, Mike is a two-time finalist in the senior bodhran competition of the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, and a former adjudicator of the Midwest Fleadh Cheoil. He is single and lives in Chicago.