James Syhabout

Best New Chef 2010: James Syhabout
Location: Oakland, California

James Syhabout is the celebrated Thai-American chef/proprietor of Commis, the first Michelin-starred restaurant in Oakland, California. Syhabout was named one of Food & Wine's Best New Chefs in 2010 and has received multiple nominations for the James Beard Award over the years, including in 2022 for Best Chef: California. He is the author of the critically acclaimed cookbook "Hawker Fare: Stories & Recipes from a Refugee Chef's Isan Thai and Laotian Roots" (2018).


Born in Thailand and raised in Oakland, James Syhabout honed his skills and developed his craft at several renowned establishments around the world, beginning with Chef David Kinch's Manresa in Los Gatos, California. His experience with Kinch inspired him to explore other European cuisines and culinary techniques, so he ventured out to work at Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck, then Mugaritz, Alkimia, and El Bulli in Spain. Back from his travels, he helped Daniel Patterson open the award-winning Coi in San Francisco and took on the executive chef position at Plumpjack Café, where he garnered rave reviews from the San Francisco Chronicle and was named a Rising Star Chef by San Francisco Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, and StarChefs.Com.

Bolstered by the critical success of his first venture Commis, James opened the more casual eatery Hawker Fare in 2011 as a love letter to the Laotian Thai food his mom cooked. The beloved Hawker Fare locations sadly became a casualty of the pandemic, but the chef's passion for his culinary heritage lives on as he started to incorporate more Southeast Asian ingredients into dishes at his flagship restaurant Commis which, after more than a decade, has matured and found its voice, much like Syhabout himself.


James Syhabout graduated from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco.

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