Allentown cook wins a spot on Friday’s ‘Regis and Kelly’ show
By Irene Kraft
OF THE MORNING CALL
July 29, 2009
It’s Grill Friday every Friday on ”Live with Regis and Kelly,” and this week’s grilling will be done by an Allentown restaurateur.
Nathan Meacham, manager at Jack Creek Steakhouse & Cantina, will prepare one of the restaurant’s customer favorites, filet mignon.
It’s part of ”Live’s” Ultimate Hometown Grill-Off. Every summer the show features a grilling competition. In past years, producers have invited everyone from celebrity chefs to viewers to prepare grilled favorites.
Each week, the show focuses on a grilled dish from a different category — everything from pulled pork to barbecued chicken to fish. This Friday’s category is steak.
During the Grill-Off segment of the 9 a.m. show, Meacham will show how to prepare his filet mignon, along with red-skinned mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables.
”It’s sort of pretty, and it’s the best-tasting steak,” says Meacham.
But it wasn’t Meacham who got Jack Creek involved in the syndicated show’s Ultimate Hometown Grill-Off. Viewers were invited to suggest dishes from their favorite restaurants. One viewer, who’s a regular customer at Jack Creek, nominated Meacham and his dish.
”She always orders it when she dines here,” Meacham says.
Meacham was surprised when he received a call from the folks at ”Live with Regis and Kelly” telling him he was one of five contenders vying for the spot on Friday’s show. They also asked him to prepare a video showing his steak dish and to upload it on their Web site.
He and restaurant manager Sharon Slutter worked on the video presentation, injecting a little humor, with hopes of winning the hearts of the show’s producers and viewers. He wore a sombrero and pulled a maraca out of his pocket in the video.
They did something right. The five contenders were chosen for originality, taste and presentation, says Michael Gelman, the show’s executive producer. And adding humor to the video ”certainly didn’t hurt,” he says.
Competition was stiff. From nominations to contenders, the show has gathered some ”incredible” recipes, Gelman says. ”Some are better than you’ll find at five-star restaurants.”
Meacham was one of five cooks announced in the steak finals last Friday. Viewers were invited to go online for 48 hours to view the chefs’ videos and pick their favorite.
Meacham and Slutter waged a campaign to get votes. They sent vote-soliciting e-mails to Jack Creek customers and suppliers, offering coupons as a bonus for voting. They worked with a local radio station to get the word out. And everyone who worked in the front of the restaurant wore stickers reading ”We voted.”
When customers asked what it meant, they explained the contest and asked for votes.
On the show Tuesday morning, Meacham was announced the steak grill-off winner. He travels to New York Thursday to film the segment. Although the morning show usually airs live, Friday’s shows are taped a day ahead of time.
Host Regis Philbin will not be on hand to sample Meacham’s filet mignon, prepared with Jack Creek’s steak rub and garlic butter. He’ll be replaced by guest host Bette Midler who, along with Kelly Ripa, will banter with Meacham as he prepares the dish. The recipe is expected to be available Friday on http://www.LiveRegisandKelly.com .
After Friday’s presentation, Meacham isn’t finished. He and the winners from 11 other weeks will compete.
Viewers will vote for their favorites and, on Week 12, the cooks with the top two recipes will compete in a grill-off. The winner, who will be selected by a team of experts, will have his or her recipe published in Better Homes and Gardens magazine.
”That’s great publicity for any restaurant,” Gelman says.
There’s a bonus for voting, too. Those who cast their ballot online have a chance to win one of five Weber Genesis Gas Grills, valued at $900.