After graduating from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, in 1982 with a foundation in classical French cooking techniques, Chef John Vlandis cooked his way through Northern Italy. He worked in restaurants ranging from local mom-and-pop trattorias to the Michelin two-star Al Sorriso, then considered the best restaurant in Italy.
John has since served as Executive Chef for a variety of fine dining establishments in the United States, including the world-famous Pump Room in Chicago and the Blackhawk Grille in Danville, California. He also supervised menu development for the 30-property Greenfield Restaurant Group.
John is especially passionate about pairing food with wine, a skill he fine-tuned during his four years as Executive Chef of the Hess Collection Winery.
Over the years, John has cooked for a wide variety of A-list clients, including Frank Sinatra, George Strait, The Grateful Dead, Phil Collins, Billy Idol, the King of Greece, the Patriarch of Constantinople and athletes Michael Jordan, Dwight Clark, Joe Montana and Gary Player.
John also has cooked for such Napa Valley notables as Robin and Jon Lail, Steve Padis, the Corley Family/Monticello Vineyards, Dancing Hares Vineyard, Harris Estate Vineyards and Padis Family Wines.
Plus, his recipes and food styling have appeared in Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Savor, Chicago, Diablo and Chefs magazines, and in the Chicago Tribune, Contra Costa Times, Chicago Sun-Times and Decanting Napa Valley. He also serves as Recipes Editor for a new series of national newsstand magazines with the theme Easy Recipes From America’s Great Chefs.
John cooks with organic ingredients whenever possible, often incorporating herbs and vegetables from his own garden. He also makes everything—stocks, sauces, condiments and more—from scratch, so he can control the quality and the flavors. John’s skills are not limited to the savory, either; he once owned a custom pastry shop that supplied high-end caterers, hotels and restaurants with wedding cakes and specialty pastries, and he continues to bake his own pastries and breads.
“My dishes have to taste good, first and foremost,” John says. “I also focus exclusively on seasonal ingredients, and on achieving a balance of colors and textures in each dish.” You can count on John’s food to feature complementary flavors—rather than jarring, theatrical contrasts—and trust that his dishes will complement wine, rather than competing with it.