English as a Second Language teacher Alex Tyshkevych and his wife Annie went to New York City to appear on the "Live! with Regis and Kelly" show on ABC-TV. They were part of Fix My Man Week, in which women get help with their men.
In May, LIVE hosts Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa announced they were searching for viewers who love their men but feel that they have bad habits or annoyances that need to be fixed.
Annie applied online "as a lark," she said, begging for help with Alex's cooking. She told the show she'd like him to prepare a real, healthy meal, instead of just eggs and hot cereal. Annie got a call from the show about two weeks later, and after several more calls, it was confirmed that they were one of five chosen from over 1,000 applicants to appear on the show. Other "fixes" were for men with hairy backs, a man who couldn't dance, a man who wasn't romantic enough, and a man who snored.
The Tyshkevychs spent four days in New York City, with all expenses paid, while Annie's aunt kept one of their children and a friend kept the other.
"It's easier if you split them up," Annie laughed.
Alex had two days of cooking lessons with Chef Josh Capon of Lure Fishbar, and Annie went shopping.
They had been to New York two years ago, but Annie said, "This was a much more fun trip."
Their segment of the show was broadcast live to viewers in the Eastern time zone on Wednesday, July 13.
"It was a really interesting experience" to be in the middle of a live TV broadcast, Annie said.
On the day of the show, Alex cooked in the Live! Kitchen and served Regis, Kelly, Annie, and Chef Josh with a wonderful meal: filet mignon, asparagus, potatoes, Romesco sauce, and cherry upside down cake. Regis was the pupil as Alex expertly took him through the steps to make the Romesco sauce, and showed him how to tell if his steak was cooked "medium."
Even Chef Josh, who was doubtful at the start, admitted, "He's come a long way in a few days," and praised the meal Alex prepared.
Annie was pleasantly surprised by the appearance and taste of the food, and agreed her man had been "fixed."
Chef Josh gave Alex a paring knife and a chef's knife at the start of his lessons, and Alex was also given a present at the end of the show. The hosts told him, "You're going to continue your culinary education thanks to the Viking Cooking School down in Franklin, Tennessee. You'll learn to cook with confidence and find your inner chef with a six-week hands-on course at Viking University." The course consists of six intense, three-hour lessons, and Alex is going to start in August and be finished before their new baby is born in October.
"I'm really excited about that," Annie said. "For him it's a really big step."
So what has Alex cooked since they've been home from New York?
"Well," said Annie, "Not much. He's been swamped with work stuff."
As ESL lead teacher, Alex has to study the students' test scores, divide them into groups, and choose the curriculum - all before school starts the first week of August.
So all he'd cooked, as of Tuesday afternoon, was Cream of Wheat, and a Stouffer's frozen entrée. But for him, Annie says, "This is big progress."
The couple has been married a little over six years. They met and married in the Ukraine, when Annie was teaching over there, and moved back to the States for the birth of their first child. Alex got the ESL job in Marshall County and for two years they lived in Franklin, near Annie's mother and brothers, before they found the house in Lewisburg. This was good news for Alex, because "he hates to commute," according to Annie.
"He had a driver's license but he never owned a car until he moved here at age 27," said Annie, highlighting one of the differences between the Ukraine and the United States.
Annie taught ballroom dancing from the time she was 18 years old, and got into Zumba when she wanted to work off the weight she gained during two "back-to-back" pregnancies (their children are 5 and 4 years old). Soon she was a certified instructor, teaching three classes a week. Now an assistant is taking over and she's going on maternity leave.