Rising Star Chef James Syhabout of Commis - Biography

Oakland, CA

November 2011

James Syhabout has spent time in some of the most renowned fine dining kitchens in the world, and his resume reads like a dream for most working cooks: commis at El Bulli, chef de partie at Alkimia, chef de partie at Daniel Patterson’s Coi, and sous chef at Manresa with David Kinch. Not to mention stops at Mugaritz and The Fat Duck along the way…

The Oakland native was led to cooking by his mother, a chef at a Thai restaurant in Oakland. He graduated from California Culinary Academy in 1999 and headed to Manresa; in 2004, his friendship with Kinch and Harold McGee led to a stage at The Fat Duck, which opened the doors for his other seminal European experiences.

The precise techniques he’s picked up along the way – and continues to build and master – shine through. For Syhabout, it’s all about the details - whether it’s mixing a curry powder that suits his palate or whisking a perfect sabayon to compliment the season’s first asparagus. His range of high-concept techniques and ability to manipulate products don’t conflict with his appreciation of seasonal ingredients – which goes to show that with the right chef, even in San Francisco, the two schools of cooking don’t have to butt heads. He's currently the Chef-owner of Commis.