Freehof, who has been an executive chef for most of his career, moved with his family to Columbia County from Rhode Island after a long online search for a community with better schools than their children attended.
“We didn’t know what we were going to do exactly,” he said. They eventually settled on buying the former Gorin’s location on Washington Road.
Freehof is no stranger to television, having grilled the competition on “At Home With Chef Jeff” from his house in the Northeast.
“We had some really great shows on, so I wanted to kind of do the same thing down here,” he said.
With a focus on real food people can recreate for themselves, Freehof will tackle topics such as brunch, luaus, sandwiches, homemade pasta and sauces on his 30-minute program.
“There are a lot of cooking shows people watch and think, ‘That’s really wild,’ but don’t really attempt it. My goal is for people to watch it, realize what it is and make this stuff,” Freehof said.
Experience on his first show taught “Chef Jeff,” as he is known, two important things about cooking shows: the television
will eat energy and preparation is key. Pleased with his show’s focus, Freehof went back after a few episodes to review
the old tapes and discovered that what he thought was energetic was just straightforward.
“You really have to kind of pour it on a little bit,” he said. “If you’re working alone and don’t have an audience and you’re getting kind of loud, people are going to start thinking that you’re crazy,” he said. “I never really came up with a word or a catchphrase so I don’t imagine one will emerge at this point.”
At the same time he kicked it up a notch, he noticed they were making heavy edits to the episodes to fit them into the half-hour schedule.
“It wasn’t necessarily poor cooking, but it was just they way we filmed it and had to edit it,” he said. “It was a little choppy.”
Instead of racing the clock à la Rachael Ray, he learned to prepare as much as he could in advance. For now, the show will film in a studio, but Freehof would like one day to film in viewers’ own kitchens where he may even reveal his prize-winning clam chowder recipe on his soup and chowder themed show, if viewers are lucky.
In the meantime, try it at Cutie Pies, which also bakes the “Best Pizza in America” and has the award to prove it: The restaurant’s Calypso pizza won the 2000 International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas. This blend of high-quality traditional and Caribbean-influenced pizza toppings on a handmade crust is one among many gourmet pies baked fresh in the Evans restaurant. The menu includes pizza pies, baked gourmet pies (“cutie pies”) and dessert pies (“sweetie pies”).
Gourmet pizzas are 10-inches and include choices with names like Barbecue Pit, Buffalo Chicken and The Greek for just $7.99. The flaky, six-inch Cutie Pies are just $4.79 and include choices such as French meat pie, curried pork and Florentine. Sweetie pies change regularly, but may include apple and strawberry rhubarb.
The menu also includes a selection of salads, wraps and panini sandwiches. Salad dressings such as honey lemon and avocado ranch are made fresh in the store and pair with the lemon pecan chicken salad or the Greek cobb salad, both just $5.99. The Tuscan club wrap and chicken cordon bleu panini are the most popular in the sandwich section at $5.99 each, but give the Cuban panini a try.
Quick combos range from $4.99 to $9.95 and come with one of the stores “Spectacular Sides,” such as red bliss potato salad, Greek style pasta salad, garlic smashed potatoes and honey glazed carrots. For the many desktop diners in the area, Cutie Pies delivers within a four-mile radius.
Freehof, who served as CBS Sports broadcaster Jim Nantz’s personal chef during Masters Week, also offers gourmet catering.
Cutie Pies is located at 4274 Washington Road in Evans Towne Center. They are open Monday – Thursday from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Friday – Saturday from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Call 706-228-3500 for more information.