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MEN OF STEEL: Having (finally) found a location in Tysons Corner, chefs Jonathan Krinn and Jon Mathieson expect to open a modern American restaurant of their own design this November, and they're bringing in a third chef, John Wabeck, to see that patrons drink as well as they eat.

Inox (1800 Tysons Blvd., McLean) takes its name from the abbreviated French word for stainless steel, a material Mathieson says conveys strength and surrounds most kitchen crews. "Chefs will know what it means," he adds, referring to the Inox stamp engraved in many cooking utensils.

Krinn, 39, and Mathieson, 43, worked together at the elegant 2941 in Falls Church for more than two years. The business partners plan to both cook and make appearances in the dining room at the 125-seat restaurant in the PricewaterhouseCoopers building. As owners, "we'll be as creative as we want to be," Mathieson says. A menu has yet to be written, but the chef hints that the choices will include fish and Asian influences.

Wabeck, now the chef at New Heights in Woodley Park, plans to leave that job Aug. 2 to prepare for his new role as wine director at Inox. "Anyone who has paid any attention to what I've been doing" shouldn't be surprised by the decision to trade his toque for a tastevin, says Wabeck, 40.  When he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1992, he recalls, he sent out 20 résumés for sommelier positions; for the past 5 1/2 years, he has been studying for his master sommelier certification (with luck, he'll pass the last part of the difficult four-step examination in February).

Will Wabeck ever stir another pot? "If a guy calls in sick," he says, "I might throw on an apron." But there's no doubt about what he calls his "bloody exciting" role at Inox: "I'll be the guy with the biggest smile in the dining room."

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