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The California Questionnaire: Tyler Florence

The California Questionnaire: Tyler Florence
Chef, TV host, oenophile, motorcycle enthusiast—Tyler Florence truly is living the dream

Food Network fans know Tyler Florence as the debonair celebrity chef who is passionate about great cuisine and living well. San Francisco residents—and foodies who flock to the city—think of Florence as the creative force behind Wayfare Tavern, the cozy Financial District eatery that marries the atmosphere of a British pub with some irresistibly inventive cuisine.

The cuisine at Wayfare Tavern can best be described as classic American fare with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients that highlight the best of California’s culinary resources. The fried chicken is a real showstopper and is designed to be shared, enjoyed, and discussed long after the meal is over. 

Where do you live? Corte Madera, California.

Why there? My wife and I found a one-of-a kind Bernard Maybeck home finished in 1904 and we fell in love with it. It’s tucked back in the hills of Corte Madera. It’s a beautiful example of early California architecture. We love it.

Who or what is your greatest California love? That’s a tough one. There’s so much to love. As a chef, the local produce we get in our restaurants is second to none in the country. I love that. I feel lucky to get to cook with it every day. As a winemaker, I love the rolling hills of Sonoma. The microclimates produce so many different variations of fruit: the best Pinot grapes, the best Chardonnay, the best Syrah, the best Zinfandel. I fall in love with the process every year. But if I had to pick one thing that I love the most about California, it would be her coastline. Riding my motorcycle up old Highway 1 in western Marin County melts my heart.

What is the biggest misperception about Californians? There’s a fine line between misperception and the truth. What would that be? That we all think we can change the world with a new app? Or we all go to the beach all day, or we’re wine snobs, or that our politics are liberal, or we’re too idealistic? Dreamers even? It all depends if you’re looking at the state from the outside because it all seems too good to be true. We’re the sixth largest economy in the world. We entertain the world. We get the world tipsy on our grape juice. Our tech community is creatively introducing new ideas and solutions that do make the world a better place. We love to dream big, and great things come from that. For someone to assume that we’re soft, or flaky, or shallow, I would say that we have mastered the art of having better things to do. Like taking off from work to go surfing. It’s all part of the creative process.

What is the stereotype that most holds true? The conversations about which highway did you take to get somewhere. Like “The Californians” on Saturday Night Live. That’s very true.

What’s your favorite Golden State splurge? I love going direct to wineries to buy wine. It’s really special to get the story of the wine direct from the winemaker. You get a whole new appreciation for the craft and get details about the wine you would never get from a wine shop. Some of my favorites are Three Sticks in Sonoma, Kistler in Sebastopol, Kosta Browne also in Sebastopol, and Matthiasson Winery in Napa.

Time for a road trip—where do you go? My favorite California road trip is the PCH from San Francisco to Big Sur on motorcycle. It’s the most beautiful coastline in the world.

If you could decree an official state culinary experience, what would that be? It would be a three-way tie between Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, In-N-Out Burger (order a 3x3), and The French Laundry.

Best California Song? "California Stars,” by Billy Bragg and Wilco.

How would your California dream day unfold? A cookout with friends, chasing sun-kissed kids around the pool, and a cold glass of rosé.

Harriot Manley/ Sunset Publishing

Discover the San Francisco Bay Area

A crimson bridge, cable cars, a sparkling bay, and streets lined with elegant Victorian homes—San Francisco is undeniably one of the world’s great cities. Located along the Northern California at the state’s distinctive bend in the coast, the region has an alluring magic that stretches beyond the bay to diverse cities with nightlife and trend-setting cuisine.

"I left my heart in San Francisco, High on a hill, it calls to me." —singer Tony Bennett

The Bay Area is also home to some of the world’s finest wine country, including Napa Valley and Sonoma, plus waterfront towns, dramatic beaches, and the tech-savvy southern end of the bay known as the Silicon Valley, where lunchtime ideas at Google, Facebook, and Apple, turn into the next brilliant innovation. 

Russian River Brewing Company

THE CALIFORNIA QUESTIONNAIRE: Natalie Cilurzo

The co-owner of the wildly popular Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa shares her story, along with a few Golden State favorites

Natalie Cilurzo will never forget the day everything changed for the Russian River Brewing Company. It was February 5, 2010—the first Friday in...

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Sausalito

Explore this quaint town that’s just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco

Just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, a steep hillside covered in chaparral and eucalyptus drops from Highway 101 to a flat, sunny shoreline, two...

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Spotlight: Berkeley

See a stunning museum, shop, and feast in the Bay Area’s most outspoken city

A haven for backyard artists and coffee-shop philosophers, Berkeley has deep roots in the Flower Power movement of the 1960s and ’70s. But...

San Francisco's cable cars are the country's only mobile National Historic Landmark.
Thomas H. Story/ Sunset Publishing

Golden Gate Bridge

See one of the world’s most famous landmarks, spanning an elegant bay

With towers soaring 746 feet/227 meters into the sky, its span arcing across the mouth of San Francisco Bay, and all of it painted bright red-...

San Francisco has only one drawback - 'tis hard to leave.
Rudyard Kipling
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Taste the delicious dishes from these amazing California chefs

From a candy-colored pastry shop to Michelin-starred dining rooms, top restaurants run by celebrity chefs dot the Golden State. And even if you don’t know these chefs from the TV...

Atelier Crenn
Courtesy of MasterChef Australia

Atelier Crenn

Two Michelin stars sparkle at this minimalist gem

For a visual feast that also happens to taste amazing, book a table at Atelier Crenn, where gifted chef Dominique Crenn creates visually stunning...

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Spotlight: Napa Valley

Explore ultimate wine country luxury in the land where Cabernet is king

Napa Valley reigns as the land of grand estates, expansive tasting rooms, quaint towns, and elegant lodgings, many of which edge up to the...

Vicki Jauron/Getty Images

Spotlight: Sonoma County

Escape to wine country with secret vineyards, cozy inns, and rich history

Spanning more than one million acres from the Pacific Ocean to the rugged Coast Range, this slice of wine-country bliss defies typecasting. Yes,...

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Kid-friendly fun zones, special kids' menus & amazing wine for the grownups

Sure wine country is romantic, but now it’s a surprisingly great destination for families too, with a growing number of vineyards trading in elegant tasting rooms for kid-friendly fun zones that...

John/Flickr
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World-class accommodations in world-class locations

Head to the heart of California’s cities for luxurious stays at world-class accommodations. From San Francisco’s historic hotels to celebrity hot spots in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, California’s...

Lynn Gately/Flickr
San Francisco itself is art, above all literary art. Every block is a short story, every hill a novel. Every home a poem, every dweller within immortal. That is the whole truth.
William Saroyan
Harriot Manley/Sunset Publishing

Trip 8-10 days 10 stops

Ultimate Northern California

Explore the best of Northern California's Great Outdoors
San Francisco

It may measure less than 50 square miles/130 square kilometers, but San Francisco justly ranks as one of the greatest cities in the world. Famous for grand-dame Victorians, classic cable cars, dynamic diversity, a beautiful waterfront, and a soaring crimson bridge, the  “City by the Bay” is the...

Muir Woods National Monument

Tucked into an ocean-facing fold of Mount Tamalpais, the signature peak just north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County, Muir Woods National Monument protects the last stand of uncut old-growth coast redwoods in the Bay Area, where loggers had all but denuded the region by the late 1800s....

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Farm-fresh produce, culinary adventures

Juicy heirloom tomatoes and just-picked strawberries. Super-sweet peaches shaped like mini UFOs. Artisanal cheeses, emerald-green olive oils, local wildflower honey—California’s farmers’ markets...

Laura Flippen
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From Gold Rush history to the 8th wonder of the world, visit these favorites

If there was ever a box of chocolates—and all of them delicious—it’s the rich collection of natural treasures, fascinating...

Amy Meredith/Flickr
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Make memories at some of California's family-favorite beaches

Sand, water, and kids—it’s a natural combination for easy family fun. This sandy dozen offers appealing, family-friendly features, such as calm water for new swimmers, tide pools for intrepid...

Alex Farnum
Courtesy of Alonzo King LINES Ballet

Performing Arts

Museums, music, and a hint of bohemia

Nested near the city’s cupola-topped City Hall, impressive performance spaces in San Francisco present some of California’s—and the world’s—...

Courtesy of San Jose International Airport

Spotlight: San Jose

Tech savvy, international flair

The first hit of this city’s unmistakable techy-ness starts right off the bat—if you get here by plane. Meet Space Observer, a 26-foot/7.9-meter-...

It's simply a very romantic place. Just one look at any of those streets, and you couldn't be anywhere else -- it's so beautiful, and there's that location, and the sense of the free spirit. ... Who couldn't become ravenous in such a place?
Julia Child
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Old-fashioned fun in the Golden State

Historic oceanfront playgrounds, classic city-park charmers, boisterous adventures—smaller theme parks and attractions offer an array of ways to play.  These smaller parks offer old-...

Safari West
Tai Power Seeff
According to legend, Winchester Mystery House's maze of passages and building oddities were designed to confuse the ghosts of those killed by Winchester rifles.
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Kids get an inside look at wildlife, space, and more

From cool ways for your kids to learn about wildlife, to an insider’s look at a space station, to a chance to walk through a rain forest or learn about the night sky, there’s a bumper...

Peter Alfred Hess/Flickr

Trip 3-5 days 10 stops

San Francisco Bay Loop

Discover this something-for-everything loop tour around an iconic bay
Golden Gate Bridge

Start your trip with a visit to one of the most iconic spans in the world. With towers soaring 746 feet/227 meters into the sky, its span arcing across the mouth of San Francisco Bay, and all of it painted fire-engine red, the Golden Gate Bridge makes a dramatic destination, and a great way to...

San Francisco

End your road trip by exploring one of the world’s great cities. Famous for grand-dame Victorians, classic cable cars, dynamic diversity, a beautiful waterfront, and a soaring crimson bridge, the “City by the Bay” truly has it all. Trend-defining cuisine ranging from Michelin-starred dining to...

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Check these amazing experiences off your bucket list

Kiss a beluga, see cool movie props, and learn about Walt’s secret hideaway on exclusive and behind-the-scenes tours at California’s theme parks and attractions. Here’s a roundup of worth-the-...

Michael Saechang/Flickr
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Where to release your inner fashionista

Shopping is an art form in California. Whether you're in search of the perfect cocktail dress or an authentic Mexican piñata, you'll find it here. Want to sample fresh produce? Try our farmers...

Tai Power Seeff

Livermore

Ranches, vineyards, and relaxed appeal east of San Francisco

With warm sun and wide-open spaces cradling vineyards, ranches, and wine-country estates, the Livermore Valley makes an appealing destination just...