Popular Australian television host Maeve O’Meara, of Food Safari fame, grew the idea of a gourmet culinary tour in Sydney after sharing some of her favourite foodie discoveries with family and friends.

Gourmet Safaris are off-the-beaten-path culinary tours that explore Sydney’s diverse cultures through its unique and authentic restaurants, cafes and shops -- particularly those that are fairly unknown to the general public.

On the United Flavours of the World tour, I was chauffeured with a bus of about 25 food lovers, led by Maeve herself, to Sydney suburbs I had never heard of on a quest to find the best South American butchers and pastry shops, Portuguese delis, Vietnamese restaurants and desserts of Lebanese, American and English origin.

The eight-hour tour included visiting various establishments, tasting their goods and hearing their stories. We met Jose and Maria Pereira of Sunshine Meats in Milperra, who worked for years to make their wholesale small goods meat business the success it is today, and tasted one of their bestselling products -- a chorizo that Jose perfected as a young man living in Portugal. Another shop owner, Margarita Garcia, talked about running her husband’s Chilean butchery after he passed away, now called Margarita’s Cecinas (205 Hamilton Road, Fairfield West; 029-726-0673).

United Flavours of the World is one of 10 bus tours around Sydney, all focusing on specific food cultures and the neighbourhoods in which they are found. For example, Italian Classics takes you to the inner-city suburb of Leichhardt, where Italian immigrants settled, or explore The Exotic Flavours of Lebanon in Punchbowl in southwest Sydney. A local from each neighbourhood accompanies each tour, as well as a specialist guide – or if you are really lucky, Maeve herself.

Seven Sydney walking tours, covering similar themes to the bus tours, are also available for those that prefer to burn a few of the calories acquired during the day’s eating activities.

Brooke Schoenman is the Sydney Localite for BBC Travel