John’s Bio

John A. Vlahides is a San Francisco-based artist, writer, producer, travel journalist, television presenter, and former hotelier and chef. He’s also a classical singer with the Grammy-winning San Francisco Symphony Chorus.

For television, John co-hosted and co-produced the National Geographic TV adventure-travel documentary series Lonely Planet: Roads Less Travelled, for worldwide broadcast on NatGeo Adventure. Specifically he researched and presented the pilot in Morocco, plus the series’ closing episode in Madagascar, where he was among the first journalists to report on Famadihana, the ritual exhumation of a tribe’s ancestral dead.

As professional writer, editor, researcher, travel expert, and critic, John has authored 26 travel guides for Lonely Planet, general-interest titles principally on California and the American West, but also on Dubai and the South of France; he is a specialist in etiquette, food, wine, and hotels. He authored the viral travel essay, Why Not to Take Sleeping Pills on Airplanes. Formerly, John assigned stars to luxury hotels as a reviewer for Fodor’s. His viewpoints on California, New England, Canada, and Australia have also been published by BBC Magazines, Sydney Morning Herald, Condé Nast Traveler, Sunset, Wanderlust, San Francisco Magazine, King Features Syndicate, and various other American and international publications. He has received favorable mention in Fantastic Man, the New York Times and Outside Magazine; he has appeared as a travel expert on CNN, ABC World News, Fox News, and various international and local television and radio programs, including ABC Classic FM’s prestigious Mornings with Margaret Throsby, ABC Adelaide’s A World Well Travelled, ABC7’s View from the Bay, KALW Bay Area public radio, and KRON 4 News Weekend, for which he produced a quick-vacations travel segment, called “One Night Stands with John Vlahides.”

John’s background is diverse. The son of two New York doctors – one of science, one of art – who instilled in him a social conscience and love of learning, he studied French at preparatory school and literature at the Sorbonne, earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Binghamton University, and a Diplôme in classic French cooking from La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine, in Paris, where he studied with the same chefs who had trained Julia Child. He has been a French–English interpreter, personal chef to celebrities, and a five-star-hotel concierge with membership in Les Clefs d’Or, the Paris-based union of the world’s elite luxury-hotel concierges. John is currently studying ikebana – the ancient Japanese art of floral arrangement – in development of a large-scale civic, floral-art installation in San Francisco.

John is also a classically trained singer and performing artist, a 15-year full-season tenor with the Grammy-winning San Francisco Symphony Chorus, and has performed with the world’s leading conductors, notably Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT), Charles Dutoit, Kurt Masur, Herbert Blomstedt, Ragnar Bohlin, Patrick Dupré Quigley, and other internationally renowned chefs d’orchestre.  He has sung on multiple recordings, including the triple-Grammy-winning Mahler Symphony No. 8,  plus Beethoven Symphony No. 9, Mahler Symphony No. 2Beethoven Mass in C Major,  and the upcoming Berlioz Romeo & Juliette – all under the baton of MTT, on the SFS Media label. As a tenor soloist in crooner style, John has performed at various SF clubs, including Bottom of the Hill and Great American Music Hall. He also presents and emcees at cultural events and festivals, such as Litquake, and spends free time sunning on the foggy beaches of the Golden Gate.

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