Foodie Chap Liam Mayclem Takes Us Inside His Culinary Tours

credit: Rick Camargo
Liam Mayclem  Credit: Rick Camargo

Liam Mayclem knows a thing or two about the food scene San Francisco. The Emmy award winning host from CBS 5 TV’s  “Eye on The Bay” and Foodie Chap series has taken viewers inside the best Bay Area restaurant kitchens for more than eight years, interviewing over 150 chefs.

Today, the foodie chap has comes full circle with the launch of “Inside the Kitchen” Culinary Tours.  These high-end tours offer exceptional experiences for any local or traveler alike.  The Series of four tasty Saturday tours (which began the first Saturday in August) not only feature iconic food and beverages destinations in SF, but each tour includes a little bit of hands-on education.

Jason Priestley joins Liam Mayclem and company for a first-hand tour of the Mission!  Source:
Jason Priestley joins Liam Mayclem and company for a first-hand tour of the Mission! Source:

And people are coming out of the woodwork to join Liam.  Actor Jason Priestley recently came to SF for “Hollywood and Vines” and joined Liam for a first-hand culinary education of Valencia Street! What a fitting way for the Liam, an Ireland native, to celebrate his 20th anniversary in San Francisco.

Tickets for the tours are $199 per person and include transportation as well as multiple tour stops and tastings. For an additional $100, guests have the option of concluding the evening with a four-course meal by Chef Michael Rotondo at Parallel 37. Each tour is limited to 12 participants and reservations are required in advance. The next two tours are a San Francisco’s China (August 24) and The Craft of the Cocktail (August 31).

Now at the half-way mark in the series, Liam has many stories to tell. He takes Haute Living inside of his love for food, chefs and the city of San Francisco.

Tell me about the food tours; how has the experience been thus far?

It’s been really cool doing this. For me, it’s about sharing my love and passion for food in a more intimate way.  The tours have maxed out at 12 people; I didn’t want them to be any bigger.  I wanted them to be special and intimate.  It’s not a group of 20 or 30; it’s 12.  I curated each and every one of the tours.

At last Saturday’s tour (A Taste of San Francisco), the group was really into it.  The cool thing about is that every tour is more than a tour; they have a class within it.  Last week at Tony’s Pizza, world champion pizza chef Tony Gemignani was there to answer questions and the group had a chance to make pizza.  It’s a hands-on experience. One guy on Saturday had so much fun that he booked himself for the upcoming Chinatown tour.

Each tour has a culinary crescendo with a four-course chef table dinner with wine pairings at the Ritz Carlton.

Tell us about your upcoming San Francisco’s China tour.

Saturday’s tour will be part old Chinatown while celebrating new players in Asian cuisine. It’s a little old world/new world.  We are going to a tea house in Chinatown then to M.Y. China for a noodle show.  We’ll wrap up with a dessert demo and cocktail pairing at Hakkasan.  I don’t think anyone has done a tour like this.

Liam Mayclem and Ben Fong Torres
Liam Mayclem and Ben Fong-Torres

Why did you want to include Ben Fong Torres in the SF China tour?

Ben is a neighbor and a friend of many years.  He worked in Chinatown as a journalist 40 years ago before he came the founding editor of Rolling Stone magazine, so he knows Chinatown, some of its secrets, some of its history and he knows its food story.  His sister Shirley did walking tours of Chinatown for more than 20 years.  So I wanted to do a Chinatown tour.

Another one of the reasons I wanted to do a Chinatown tour was to pay homage to Ben’s sister Shirley.  She was the first person to show me around Chinatown soon after I moved here 20 years ago.  She showed me Chinatown and took me into the kitchens to meet chefs, took me into stores to show me what they were doing behind the scenes.

How did you get involved with the Ritz Carlton?

Diana Haven (in PR for Parallel 37) was my booking producer at ZDTV (TechTV). It just came up in a conversation over lunch.  She said, “Wouldn’t it be fun for you to share your passion and knowledge for food and relationship with chefs? The Ritz would love to work with you to offer something unique to their guests and to locals. But the tour is open to everyone, not just people staying at the Ritz.

Any ideas for future food tours?

We’re already talking about another series of food tours in November.  It’s all up for grabs.  I definitely want to show new and exciting things happening in neighborhoods like the Mission and Dog Patch.  The plan is to curate tours and experiences that people have never fully enjoyed before.

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