Best Of 2008

BEST CHEF: David Miller, Savant Fine Dining

David Miller of Savant Fine Dining.

Savant, a Clearwater restaurant open for more than three years, is so low-key we’d never heard of it until earlier this year. Then came a nod from Zagat, which awarded Savant, along with a couple of other restaurants, the highest food ranking in the Bay area. The place also scored a few year’s-best lists. After spending a day with Savant’s chef/owner David Miller for our Food Issue, we’re squarely on the bandwagon. Miller started his career as a high school dropout taking culinary courses at Pinellas Tech. As a teenager, he won cooking contests, garnering him a free ride to the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. After graduating at age 18, he got his feet wet around Florida and the Caribbean, and trained in pastries with world-renowned chef Edward Notter. Now, at age 27, he has Savant, along with a chocolate-making company and a recently opened restaurant on a private island near Tortola. Miller’s always been into cuisine for the art, which shows on every plate he puts out. Colors, shapes and designs are composed the same way he engineers flavors, with precision and a keen understanding of culinary science and ingredients. That turns a meal at Savant into a rare experience in Bay area dining — an event. Each course elicits a combination of surprise and excitement, the food as good as anything served on the Gulf Coast. If we can get him to stick around the Bay area, something he’s committed to do, we have a lot to look forward to from Miller. 2552 Drew St., Clearwater, 727-421-9975.