Tim Mittan's grilled shrimp recipe is already a local contest winner, but on Friday morning it received the official Ryan Seacrest and Robin Givens stamp of approval on national television.
The Southeast Community College professor was selected by the producers of “Live with Kelly and Ryan,” a morning television talk show, to cook for the two celebrities as part of their GRILLIN’spiration Summer Cook-off contest segment.
The contest required Mittan to submit a 30-second video of himself standing in front of his grill describing his special recipe: grilled garlic shrimp skewers served with a spicy, orange marmalade-based sauce.
After submitting the video last Wednesday, he said he felt confident in his chances, given the dish’s previous success in a B107.3 grilling competition several years ago.
“I had made this recipe a couple times before and it was easy and people always seem to like it,” Mittan said.
The goal of the contest is to inspire viewers to explore more home cooking options specifically oriented around grilling. Six finalists will demonstrate their recipes on the show throughout the summer.
The winner will be decided by how many reactions the segment receives on the show’s official social media pages, with the grand prize consisting of a paid trip to a spa and resort hotel in Tuscany, Italy, with private cooking classes and wine tasting.
Mittan said his grilled shrimp was likely selected for television due to how easy it is to make. He described his recipe as simple and easy to customize, depending on the cook’s preferences.
“You don’t need 25 different things to put in the recipe. All you really need with the shrimp is olive oil, six cloves of garlic, orange marmalade with OJ and lime juice, and chili flakes,” he said. “If you don't want orange marmalade or want something different like apricot, then you can do that instead. It’s all up to you.”
Before being selected as one of six of the contest’s finalists, Mittan’s video was first judged by a panel based on his personality, recipe creativity, passion for grilling and visual and overall appeal of the dish.
Then, on May 7, Mittan received a call from one of the show’s producers telling him ABC would fly him to New York City to tape the segment.
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“I was thrilled, it surprised me. I thought they were calling me just to verify (the recipe) was real and it was my own recipe,” he said. “When she asked if I wanted to be on, I was shocked.”
After arriving at the studio at 8:30 a.m. and doing a quick run through of the recipe, Mittan was greeted by show host Ryan Seacrest and stand-in co-host and actress Robin Givens. The simplicity of the recipe meant Mittan had more time to interact with the two hosts. Givens was given a personal culinary lesson on how to smash garlic, according to Mittan.
“Robin came over after to give me a big hug and said she was very appreciative of everything I taught her,” he said. “They were so nice, and even the crew thanked me because it was apparently a really good segment.”
Though Mittan has previously made small 30-second appearances on regional television before, a long-running ABC show with a national audience was a different beast altogether.
“There’s some butterflies that happen. I’ve only ever cooked in my backyard and in my house,” Mittan said. “There’s a little bit of pressure to make sure it was all done right and to make sure you interact with the hosts and talk and ask questions.”
And how did the shrimp end up tasting?
“There was no shrimp left afterward, so that’s probably a good sign,” Mittan said.
With three contestants still left to go, Mittan will have to wait until the end of July before a winner is announced. In the meantime, he will be promoting his segment on Facebook and on the radio in order to garner enough “votes” to win.
He said he’s interested to see how he comes across on television, given that he had to multitask while cooking.
“I had to remind myself to look up because I was on camera,” Mittan said. “So hopefully I did that enough.”