Big news for all pastry fans, but southerners especially: Birmingham, Alabama’s Dolester Miles just won the 2018 James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef. In honor of her big win (and her restaurant, Highland’s Bar and Grill, we’re sharing our profile of her from our May/June Southern issue, where we name Dolester as one of 10 Southern Bakers You Should Know. Read up on the rest of our favorite Southern bakers in our latest issue. Also, try her recipe for Bourbon-Glazed Pound Cake!
Once the consummate unsung hero of Southern pastry, Dolester Miles crafted world-class pastry for over 30 years before nabbing her first James Beard Award nod. Now that the long overdue accolades are pouring in, Birmingham locals can take pride in what they’ve long suspected is true: They possess one of the greatest pastry talents not only in the South but in the United States.
Dol, as her friends lovingly call her, is a homegrown talent, taught at her mother’s Alabama table how to whip a fluffy meringue, cream butter and sugar, and bring together a to-die-for piecrust. Since 1982, she’s been shining at chef/restaurateur Frank Stitt’s three Birmingham institutions: Highlands Bar & Grill (which also won the 2018 James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant), Chez Fonfon, and Bottega.
Dol creates masterful pastries and indulgent homespun desserts, like a delicate trio of profiteroles draped in chocolate sauce or Vanilla Bean Crème Caramel. As long as it adheres to the rule of seasonality, Dol can meet any pastry challenge, whether it’s perfecting the classic Southern pound cake or executing a traditional French dacquoise.
Her Best Bite: Coconut Pecan Cake, a nutty, tropical classic that pops up on the menu all season long.