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Fresh, Local Ingredients Inspire Chef's Creativity For Ever-Changing Menu At SummaJoe's

By Kelly Church

SummaJoe's Searing Pans is an Anderson, SC restaurant that uses fresh, local ingredients to create an Italian-inspired menu. Summer Fredette is the owner of the restaurant and works alongside her husband Joe, who works as head chef. The couple, who combined their first names to create SummaJoe's, work closely with some of their best friends who own Polecat Farms where they get many of their ingredients.

"Joe was always inspired at his other cooking jobs to create dishes from what Polecat Farms was growing," Fredette said. "We always dreamed of opening our own restaurant."

In 2009, they did just that. Now, they run a laid-back, open restaurant where guests often run into their friends and everyone can see into the kitchen. The restaurant supports the community and the local economy by using locally-sourced ingredients to create the menu. Fredette said this helps inspire creativity in the kitchen.

While the specials change daily, the rest of the menu is set and only changes twice a year. Fredette said it's never boring eating at SummaJoe's Searing Pans, because guests could eat there every day and always have something new to try.

The menu features appetizers, of which the most creative is likely the roasted lamb lollipops. Cooked medium rare, lamb is marinated with fresh garlic, rosemary and served with a balsamic reduction and chevré spread. The salad menu is pretty standard, featuring caprese, a house salad, Caesar salad and a Waldorf salad. Entrees include scallop Provencal, Greek lamb chops, lamb ragu and chicken piccata, to name a few. There are sandwiches stuffed with Italian meats, Cuban spices and just a plain big and juicy beef sandwich.

"We wanted to show that you could get fresh, made-from-scratch food without the stuffy, upscale dining atmosphere," Fredette said. "It's fun to see what the farmers bring, and then see what the chefs can do with those ingredients."

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