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    Home for the Holidays with Three-Time Olympian Brian Boitano

    By Liam P. Mayclem–

    Brian Boitano—Gold Medal Olympian, TV host, author, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and inspiration for a memorable South Park song—is one of San Francisco’s most famous and giving residents, and he is home for the holidays.

    Every year for 29 years Brian has hosted a Holiday Party at Yerba Buena Ice Rink in San Francisco. The 500 invitees are asked to show up with a toy for kids in need. His nonprofit, Youth Skate, also provides an opportunity for kids to ice skate, most for the very first time. Some 10,000 kids have participated in the Youth Skate program in partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District.

    It’s not lost on Brian how crucial this is.

    “I love giving back, and doing things for community,” he told me for the San Francisco Bay Times. “Seeing a kid skate for the first time is incredibly special. For a little while they have the chance to escape and leave their worries and their cell phone behind,” he added with a smile.

    I asked if a future Olympian could be among these young skaters. He replied, “You never know. But it’s just so good to get kids moving, on the ice and out of their heads and in the moment.”

    A dedicated mentor, Brian is a powerful role model. In terms of his life as an athlete, he is a three-time Olympian who has won more than 50 titles, including 23 international gold medals, two World titles, two Pro/Am titles, 16 professional titles, four U.S. National titles, as well as that aforementioned Olympic Gold Medal. And what a moment that was for viewers, perhaps one of the greatest in Olympic skating history. The performance was electrifying, with his palpable emotions at the end shared by many spectators.

    Brian has been inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame, the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame, and the National Italian-American Hall of Fame.

    After going pro, he dominated competitions in the professional ranks, winning 10 straight titles—half of those at World Professional Championships. He even won an Emmy for the television special Carmen on Ice, and hosted two seasons of What Would Brian Boitano Make? on the Food Network. His cookbook of the same name is first rate, revealing his impressive culinary skills.

    A champ as well behind the bar, Brian makes medal-worthy cocktails. Several appear on the bar menu at Boitano’s Lounge in Lincoln, Nebraska ( https://tinyurl.com/3snt638u ). As reviewers at Yelp write, the drinks are “outstanding,” “well designed,” and just plain “great.” Seriously, Boitano’s Lounge is worth the trip to the Cornhusker State. (Editor’s Note: Members of our team have stopped there during cross-country drives, and loved it. The skyscapes of Nebraska are epic, and the locals have been incredibly welcoming and friendly.)

    Brian shared a tasty and creative seasonal cocktail recipe with the San Francisco Bay Times called “Hello Gord-geous.”

    “The cocktail has sugar, cinnamon sticks, ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves, canned pumpkin, lemon juice with chocolate bitters, and reposado tequila,” he said. “It’s Christmas in your mouth.”

    This man of many, many talents loves the holidays and shared a few of his favorite things about being home this season in San Francisco. Here is some of our recent conversation:

    Liam Mayclem: What is important to you about this holiday time of year?

    Brian Boitano: The holidays are about family and friends and reflecting on the year that has passed; and being grateful.

    Liam Mayclem: What gets you in the holiday spirit?

    Brian Boitano: Union Square with the Christmas Tree. the Holiday Ice Rink, and the magical Macy’s window displays.

    Liam Mayclem: Fave restaurants?

    Brian Boitano: I love them all as I have many chef friends. However, Gary Danko is special for the holidays and I love Mourad any time of the year.

    Liam Mayclem: Favorite bar?

    Brian Boitano: I have a regular boys’ night out and we like to hit up the Big Four; and Whitechapel is great for gin; Comstock Saloon for whiskey and the old school vibe. For brews, go to Standard Deviant in the Mission.

    Brian added, “What’s most important to me is to sit down with friends in a place with a good vibe, a nice cocktail, and enjoy great conversation—with lots of laughs.”

    Happy Holidays!

    Hello Gourd-geous
    (recipe courtesy of Brian Boitano)
    2 ounces reposado tequila
    1 ounce pumpkin syrup (see recipe)
    1/2 ounce lemon juice 
    4 dashes chocolate bitters
    lemon peel for garnish

    Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish.

    Pumpkin Syrup
    1½ cups water
    1 cup granulated sugar
    ½ cup dark brown sugar
    3–4 cinnamon sticks
    ½ teaspoon ground ginger
    ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
    ½ teaspoon ground cloves
    ¼ cup canned pumpkin

    Combine the water and sugars in a saucepan on medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Stir until the sugars dissolve, then reduce heat to low. Add cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and pumpkin. Whisk to combine. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Make sure it does not boil. Take off the heat and let cool for 15 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer and store in the refrigerator. Freezes well. 

    Brian Boitano Youth Skate
    http://brianboitano.com/youth-skate

    Brian Boitano Lounge
    https://tinyurl.com/yat99emj

    South Park: “What Would Brian Boitano Do?”
    https://tinyurl.com/wr8hm6tr

    Union Square Skate
    https://unionsquareicerink.com

    Big Four
    https://tinyurl.com/4aebtzk5

    Comstock Saloon
    https://comstocksaloon.com

    Whitechapel
    https://www.whitechapelsf.com

    Standard Deviant Brewing
    https://www.standarddeviantbrewing.com

    Gary Denko
    http://garydanko.com

    Mourad
    https://www.mouradsf.com

    Emmy Award-winning radio and television personality Liam Mayclem is regularly featured on KPIX as well as KCBS, where he is the popular Foodie Chap. Born in London, Mayclem is now at home in the Bay Area, where he lives with his husband, photographer Rick Camargo. For more information: https://www.bookliam.com/

    Published on December 16, 2021