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Cleverest Chef 

Michael Miller, Louka

While the rest of the world has been dabbling in foams, glacés, gels, powders, and feats of culinary wizardry that double as science-fair projects, the East Bay has been content to rest on Alice Waters' laurels, making contemplative, wholesomely simple cuisine. That's why it's so refreshing to eat Miller's food. He's no Ferran Adrià, the Spanish techno-foodie who makes Jetsons fare look retro, but he clearly trained on the other coast, where it's okay to show off. His menus tease the intellect, his plates the senses. Check this out: Crispy rabbit with pumpernickel bread pudding and apricot-mustard sauce. Or this: Gin-cured salmon on crisp lavash with cilantro cream, yuzu, and roe. Dishes like these come arranged into miniature masterpieces, so delicate you don't want to take a fork to them -- until their aroma hits.

Readers' Pick:
Alice Waters

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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