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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

< Back to Oral History project: Highlands Bar & Grill at Work


Dolester Miles

Dolester Miles, born in 1956, is a native of Bessemer, Alabama. She has worked at Highlands since 1982. Miles recalls the crush of that first lunch service on November 22 of that year, when she worked as garde manger, making cold dishes like salads and appetizers. She and her cousin Verba Ford also made the desserts for Highlands. While working that job she recognized that she was passionate about baking.

As a girl in Bessemer, Miles helped her mother and aunt bake cakes and sweets. When Stitt opened Bottega in 1988, Miles became the pastry chef there. She began baking desserts and pastries for Bottega Café and Chez Fonfon when they opened in 1990 and 2000, respectively. Her kitchen produces lemon meringue tarts, coconut pecan cake, and other seasonal pastries and cakes. Miles won the 2018 James Beard Foundation award for Outstanding Pastry Chef.

Date of interview:

Eric Velasco

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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