Twenty minutes is not much time to grill a meal.
But a cool $10,000 is enough to light a fire under contestants on the new competitive cooking show "American Grilled."
On tonight's Savannah-filmed episode, four backyard grillers frantically rush around mobile kitchens set up at John P. Rousakis Riverfront Plaza, flinging wood chips and flipping meat. Their goal: Char various local ingredients into a single, tasty dish.
In the first round, one contestant worries his green tomatoes -- a must-use ingredient -- aren't getting proper sear marks.
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Another frets over how best to prepare her quail.
"I've had quail before, but usually it had some buckshot in it," she says in a video cutaway, giving a nod to the area's love of hunting the small bird.
On "American Grilled," which debuted this month on the Travel Channel, hard-core grilling enthusiasts from across the country go head-to-head each week for a chance at a cash prize and "grill master" bragging rights.
Each round has a meat element and surprise local ingredients that the contestants must showcase on the grill, like quail (the Georgia state game bird), stone ground grits and Vidalia onions, which are only grown in Georgia.
After each round, host and renowned chef/restaurateur David Guas judges the dishes with the help of barbecue expert Ray "Dr. BBQ" Lampe and Ted Dennard, owner of the Savannah Bee Company.
The hopeful "killer grillers" are a retail manager with 40 years grilling experience, an Internet sales representative with an online line of barbecue sauces, a custom machinist who builds (what else?) grills, and a wedding and event designer with a passion for female flame taming.
"I want women and young girls to see that they can grill just like the guys do," Tina Cannon said. In her household, Cannon does all the cooking, including anything on the grill.
"I don't know any women in my neighborhood who cook on the grill. I get looks all the time," she said. "But it's fun to cook outside. If you make a mess, it's not a big deal. I'm a messy cook."
That was especially true while under pressure during the challenges, Cannon said. "I definitely got the cameraman's lens dirty a few times."
Cheyenne Ledyard, the Internet sales representative, said he hardly noticed the cameras.
"You forget about the cameras because the pressure is on. It actually goes by so quick that you can't even process it until it's over. Then you just hope what you create is what the judges are looking for."
Despite the stressful environment, Ledyard said he just tried to have fun.
"I had a great time. It was one of the most challenging culinary experiences I've ever had."
With a slew of competitive cooking shows to choose from on TV, "American Grilled" stands out because it highlights local ingredients and explains their importance to regional culture.
For Savannah, that included pork cheeks, turnip greens, shrimp and Savannah Bee Company honey.
Warning: It will make you hungry.
Follow reporter Erin Shaw at twitter.com/IPBG_ErinShaw.