Cherette Jupiter started training early on to become a pie entrepreneur.
When she was eight-years-old, her parents sent their youngest of 12 children to the grocery store with a list and some money and said, “You have to make it work. Don’t come back asking for more money, because there isn’t any.”
Jupiter’s high school vo-tech instructor recognized she had flair with her baking and encouraged her to attend Johnson & Wales University. At age 18 she left her home state of Maryland and headed for Charleston where in 1989 she earned a 2-year culinary arts degree.
Charleston chef Donald Barickman recognized her talents and hired Jupiter to work at his new restaurant, Magnolias. She baked there for five years, and her white chocolate sweet potato pie was featured in Barickman’s first cookbook published in 1995 called “Magnolias Southern Cuisine.”
She loved working for Barickman, who she considers “a brother,” but when she had the chance to ramp up her income with a head chef position at a Charleston area country club, she took it.
“It was me, myself and I, head chef for two country clubs, so anything that needed to be baked - breakfast, lunch and dinner - it was me,” she said while rolling one of 20 pie crusts. “Fourth of July it was 1,500 [diners] down on the back green and 1,000 on the beach.”
Jupiter did that for five years and got burned out working 65-70 hours per week, so when the company downsized and she was offered a buyout package, she took it. The pastry chef decided it was time to pursue her dream of pie entrepreneurship, and she baked 100 pies for a function a friend catered. A Food Lion executive at the event tasted one and offered her a job.
Overseeing a grocery store bakery wasn’t exactly what she wanted, but she did it for a few years and was glad for the experience, although she still shudders when remembering how she had to use frozen pie dough.
The chef is a single mom with a 7-year-old son and a 20-year-old daughter who attends Coastal Carolina University. When her daughter needed a responsible roommate, Jupiter decided to move to Myrtle Beach and finally pursue her own pie business. That was in March 2012.
Jupiter baked pies and took them around to local restaurants including the now-closed I See Pastries in Carolina Forest, which was owned by locally-renowned pastry chef Irvin Pereira. He has a commercial kitchen in North Myrtle Beach where he bakes and cooks for his catering company called Icey Pastry Productions, and he and Jupiter now have an arrangement where she leases time to use his equipment.
With room to bake 100 pies at a time, Jupiter got busy baking sweet potato, three-berry and peach pies, all with fresh ingredients and her signature flaky crust. She started selling them at Myrtle’s Market in Myrtle Beach.
Today, just a little more than a year later, Jupiter bakes about 200 pies per week and sells them at several area farmers markets: Wednesdays and Fridays at the North Myrtle Beach farmers market; Tuesdays in Surfside Beach; Thursdays in Loris; and Saturdays in Conway and at The Market Common in Myrtle Beach.
Sweet potato pies are a constant, but the chef likes to change up her other choices. She might bake three-berry pie with a kiss of orange, or cherry, blackberry, apple, peach, lemon with lavender shortcake topping, peanut butter Kahlua, coconut cream or her famous white chocolate sweet potato pie. Jupiter’s chocolate cream pie has a fudgy layer of Godiva chocolate topped with a light layer of chocolate mousse mixed with pastry cream and whipped cream.
Then there are the bread puddings, such as blueberry lemon almond, and chocolate croissant with almonds.
While the act of creating new flavors and baking pies is “almost better than sex” for the chef, she also is happy about interacting with customers after being hidden behind restaurants’ swinging doors for many years.
She’s also thinking about what comes next. Her lifetime goal has been to open a pie shop, and the chef says the thrifty mindset her parents instilled combined with the brisk rate at which her pies sell has her mind racing.
“I want to have my own pie shop.,” she said. “I want…them all over the place. Jupiter Pies – Out of This World. I would love to have my own shop with wall-to-wall cases and just explode with anything and everything. I want to get into the savory pies and tarts…like buttermilk pie made with goat milk.”
Jupiter Pies cost $7-$13. Pie lovers can request Jupiter bring their favorite flavors to the farmers markets she visits by calling (843) 926-5221 at least 24 hours in advance.