How the West Was Cooked

"TRY ONE OF THESE," MARK MILLER URGES HIS WARY GUEST, proffering a handmade sausage stuffed with duck, fig and habanero chile. Miller watches with satisfaction as his quarry reacts to a fugue of piquant flavors that slowly fades to a smoky afterburn. "The chile pushes the flavor," explains Miller, who believes that good food should sing. "The duck fat is the low notes," he says. "The habanero is the high notes."

Miller, the nation's foremost champion of hot cuisine, is conducting his experiment in the sculpted dining room of Red Sage, his $5.2 million, 18,800- sq.-ft. Western-style restaurant in Washington. Red...

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