Meet Dolester Miles, Executive Pastry Chef of Highland’s Bar and Grill, Bottega and Chez Fon Fon. Dol has been whipping up seasonally-inspired Southern confections for Frank Stitt’s restaurants for over thirty years. In her hands, butter, sugar, eggs and flour are transformed from ordinary ingredients into culinary masterpieces. We’re definitely saving room for dessert!
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Victoria, Texas, but grew up here in Bessemer.
Is baking something you have always had a passion for, or is it something you fell for later in life?
After graduating from high school, I went to college to major in computer science. After my junior year of college, I decided to take a job in a restaurant and it all started from there.
How did you come to be Frank Stitt’s pastry chef?
Well, I started out working at Highland’s Bar & Grill as a Garde Manger. After doing that for several years, I became interested in pastries.
What inspires your pastry creations?
A combination of cookbooks.
Can you share a favorite baking memory with us?
My favorite memory of baking was when Frank Stitt and I went to New York to the James Beard Awards. Not only did I get a chance to see New York, but I also was able to make a meringue cake as the dessert. It was an awesome experience.
What’s your favorite dessert?
Lemon Meringue Tart
What about a favorite kitchen utensil?
My balloon whisk.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
My mother always told me, “Don’t over-extend yourself.”
What advice would you give to others?
Do what you can, while you can.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed rearranging the furniture in my home. Changing things around gives it new life and makes everything feel like new again.
Favorite thing to do on a Saturday night?
Curl up in my bed and watch T.V.
Favorite local restaurant?
Chez Fon Fon.
What books are you currently reading?
Frank Stitt’s Bottega Favorita, Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller, and Peninsula Grill Served with Style by Melissa Bigner.
Do you have any personality quirks or irrational fears?
I am terrified to death of snakes and rats. Anyone that knows me knows not to joke with me about those two things. HA!
If your house was on fire what’s the one non-living thing you would grab?
Actually I have three. I would grab my shoes, purse, and keys. (All in that order.)
Name three things you can’t live without (excluding friends, family, and God!)…
My TV. If I’m home, it’s always on even when I’m sleep. Some of my favorite shows to watch are the Food Network Channel, HGTV, QVC, and HSN. Earrings are my other must-have. (Seriously, I will drive back home if I’ve forgotten them.) I feel totally naked without them. Lastly, I can’t live without my mother’s bible. It’s something that she left me.
Thanks for sharing, Dol! Many of Dol’s recipes can be found in Chef Stitt’s best selling cookbook, Southern Table.
And a big thank you to Beth Hontzas for today’s fabulous photos. To see more of Beth’s work and follow her blog, check out her website at www.bethhontzas.com!