James Syhabout Makes F&W Best New Chefs List (confirmed)

James Syhabout of Ouest Coast Chef's Assistant.
Yesterday afternoon, Dana Cowin, editor of Food & Wine, started up a guessing game: On her Twitter feed she dropped hints as to the identity of the 10 chefs the magazine had just picked for its 2010 Best New Chefs issue. The ensuing tweets didn't exactly constitute a frenzy, but she did get a few A-listers to play along. Clue number 8, "Ouest coast chef assistant," was a relatively straightforward nod to Oakland's Commis.

Syhabout, whose food I loved up a few months ago, is doing the exactly kind of inventive, iconoclastic cooking the magazine tends to reward. Last year, for example, the Restaurant at Meadowood's Christopher Kostow and Bay Area traitor Nate Appleman won; in 2008, it was Jeremy Fox, recently departed from Ubuntu. The Best New Chef honor seems to be a lifetime one, as F&W likes to keep pimping award winners throughout the course of their careers.

So far as I can tell from the clues, West Coast chefs are showing well this year, with Roy Choi of Kogi in L.A., Matthew Lightner of Castagna in Portland, and possibly ― I may be way off-base with this one ― Jason Stratton of Spinasse in Seattle. F&W will be announcing the full list at 5 p.m. Pacific time via its Web site and brand-new iPhone app. Or you can check the Twitter feed of this Chicago food writer, who seems to have ID'd 9 out of 10 so far.

UPDATE: This photo of the F&W cover photo shoot, leaked via Twitter, confirms that Syhabout (and Stratton) made the list.

Follow us on Twitter: @SFoodie.Follow me at @jonkauffman.

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