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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


Guadalupe Castillo

Highlands Bar & Grill

Guadalupe Castillo began his Highlands career in 1999. A native of Puebla, Mexico, Castillo worked in restaurants in Mexico City before immigrating to Birmingham. He took a job at Azalea, another local restaurant, but needed a second job to pay his bills. A colleague recommended him for a dishwasher job at Highlands. After another employee resigned, Castillo moved to the raw bar. He had never shucked oysters before. Castillo soon became an expert shucker.

Today, the Highlands calls its cold seafood platter the Guadalupe Special, to honor his talent and drive. Castillo’s work is essential to the Highlands kitchen. Each morning, he checks in produce, seafood, and meat from vendors. Castillo’s wife, Veronica, and their son, Uriel, prep ingredients alongside him. After his team completes prep work, chopping vegetables and assembling ingredients for lunch and dinner service, Castillo returns in the evening to serve as raw bar chef. In addition to oysters, he prepares dishes like ceviche, shrimp cocktail, and crab claws.

Date of interview:

Eric Velasco

SFA Archives

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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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