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Celebrity Chef Amanda Freitag on “Chopped” and Her New Book

New Jersey-born celebrity chef Amanda Freitag sat down with Joanna Gagis on “Life & Living” to discuss her life-long passion for food, her role as a judge on The Food Network’s “Chopped,” and why she calls her new book, The Chef Next Door.

Freitag says that her love of cooking came from a love for eating, with food being “the answer to everything” growing up in Cedar Grove. “It was a typical suburban upbringing in New Jersey,” she explains. “My parents both worked, so they didn’t have time to cook a lot.” So, she set out to find good food. She started working in a restaurant when she was a teenager and fell in love with the energy, vibe, and adrenaline.

This Jersey girl has spent 20 years in food industry, and has written a new book for all different levels of cooks. She knows that many people are afraid of the kitchen when they first start cooking, and even has a chapter in her book titled, “The Scary Stuff.” Her advice? “Just do it.” Her book is an instructional tool, a home chef’s own personal cheerleader.

Freitag says that her experience as a judge on “Chopped” has taught and inspired her. After 396 episodes, she says “it has been fantastic.” Some of the ingredients used in the chef’s baskets are new to her, prompting her to try to cook with them herself.

Freitag is a big part of the Montclair Food & Wine Festival, calling Montclair her “backyard growing up.” She cites some wonderful restaurants in Montclair, and states that she loves “the chefs and the community.”

“This book was a long time coming,” she states, calling it  “a love letter to the home cook.” To order the book, head over to Freitag’s website. To learn more about “ Life & Living,” head over to their official Facebook page.

#HipNJ Celebrates National French Fry Day

By Kenneth Barilari

Today is #NationalFrenchFryDay, and #HipNJ is here to help you celebrate! If you’re craving some fried spuds, check out this list of the best places for fries in New Jersey! We have included a variety of flavors, so there is sure to be something for everyone.

Hot Grill


Where: Clifton

Must Have: Cheese & Gravy / “Sauce” & Gravy

Grand Lux Café


Where: Paramus / Cherry Hill

Must Have: Pot Roast Cheese Fries

Shake Shack


Where: Paramus / Bridgewater

Must Have: Cheese Fries with Shack Sauce

Windmill Hot Dogs


Where: Multiple Locations

Must Have: Award Winning Good Old Fashioned French Fries



Where: Seaside Heights / Wildwood

Must Have: Cheese Sauce / Dipping Vinegar



Where: Jersey City

Must Have: Kimchi Fries

Johnny Fries


Where: Ortley Beach

Must Have: Flavors (jalapeno bacon & buffalo blue-cheese)



Where: Multiple Locations

Must Have: Truffle Fries

Chickie’s & Pete’s


Where: Egg Harbor Township / Bordentown

Must Have: Crab Fries

The Committed Pig


Where: Morristown / Manasquan

Must Have: Sweet Potato Fries

Now that you’re hungry, be sure to celebrate this very important holiday and get yourself some fries. You deserve them!