On day 1 of “Das Perfect Dinner” (VOX) in Münster: 48-year-old Ilka, a qualified social worker, opens the dinner round and immediately scores points with her soul food. The preparations the day before didn’t quite go according to plan.

Monday, June 13: “Fight for survival,” laughs Ilka in the face of the looming kitchen fight. “I usually never have a plan, but today I need one. Otherwise there will be chaos here,” she looks at the note on the wall for help. Point by point, the mother of a daughter can tick off the steps that will bring her closer to her perfect dinner under the motto “Soulfood – (My) dishes with history”. There is:

Nobody can imagine anything under the appetizer. “Maybe Italian?” Domenik (29) is puzzled. The self-proclaimed mess Jess (33) has no plan at all: “I’m overwhelmed with myself and with the whole situation.” Meanwhile, Thomas (20) admits: “I don’t really eat meat.” Neither does Mechthild (60). Nevertheless, both try everything that comes on the table this week.

Ilka’s warm welcome immediately breaks the ice. “Please make yourself at home,” the hostess disappears into the kitchen to get the aperitif. She is happy about the uncomplicated squad: “Mega! Everyone eats everything! I’m freaking out!” The cold drink loosens the tongues. Domenik: “It was already high-proof alcohol. Of course, that got the whole thing going.” Back in the kitchen, Ilka quickly puts her glass aside: “It’s so strong, I put a bit too much in.”

Nevertheless, she brings the soup into the bowls without any complications. “Sopa de mani” means peanut soup. “You can’t avoid it in Bolivia. It’s a very traditional soup,” explains Ilka, who worked in a children’s home in Bolivia for a long time. “Traditionally, there’s a whole chicken in it, head and feet and all the pipapo,” she says, making the soup tasty for her guests. Domenik is happy about the fried potato strips as a soup ingredient: “Small mini fries!” Thomas also likes their crunch: “That was something extraordinary.”

After the culinary trip to Bolivia, Ilka’s next story follows: “The connection to the main course is my father, who has been collecting mushrooms for as long as I can remember.” The porcini mushrooms come from him, the cattle come from Münster. Domenik: “The meat was cooked perfectly.” As a mushroom critic, he was pleasantly surprised by the risotto: “It tasted really good. I expected worse.”

Jess expects “definitely colorful fruit” for dessert. However, behind the “happiness” plate are: lemon tartlets, liquorice crème brûlée and macarons. Ilka prepared the latter the day before: “It took me ten attempts and I was done.” The small meringues just didn’t want to succeed.

All the components of the dessert make Ilka happy. The positive vibes also spread to the guests. Jess applauds the lovingly decorated plates: “You’re beaming with happiness!” The liquorice note is subtle enough for everyone to taste. lucky! For this, Ilka earns a whopping 33 points – a good start to the dinner week in Münster.

Friday, June 9th: Oh, blissful East Friesland, where young women with a porcelain complexion wear starched striped dresses to cook, the properties are huge and old farmsteads are stylishly renovated… There, cute daughters are called Lilly and Rosa, leave no traces in the house, instead pluck happily eat basil from the stalk and have loving parents who have been a couple since school.

Hostess Carina (36) met and fell in love with Keno at the age of 15. Your magic formula for long-term happiness? “Always redesign the relationship.” As for the interior design, the husband can chime in: “If she wants something, I’ll build it for her.” Carina, who always seems patent, also knows how to package her feelings in an appealing way. Each of their menu courses is a homage to “favorite people”:

Motto: “A matter of the heart”

Carina’s mum used to fill zucchinis with cream cheese, the older daughter loves fish and the five-year-old of course already cooks risotto. The crumble dessert is again a recipe from the not bad mother-in-law. The clan and the village – according to Carina, a single idyll: “We love knowing everyone here and being able to get an egg anywhere at any time,” enthuses the hobby cook about Emden, previously known primarily for the Waalkes legacy “Dat Otto Huus”.

Rich in words and gestures, and with unshakable organizational skills, Carina works her way from course to course – a real elementary school teacher. Husband Keno, called “My Heart” by Carina, has a more “moral” function: “She actually always has everything under control – and I offer broad shoulders as an anchor.” For her, cooking is a matter of attitude: “If it’s done without passion, it’s definitely hard work every day.”

However, before residents of moderate city apartments with an affinity for deep freeze in fickle relationships and far from home-made lavender lemonade get into the crisis, master hairdresser Hiltrud (52) comes into the picture. Down-to-earth and laconic, she comments on the high-gloss property from 1838: “But that’s something nice. Oh, an old bell – let me hear it!”

But one thing doesn’t suit Hiltrud at all: “You can fry fennel for me however you want – I can’t swallow something like that.” With seven points, she is rather covered for the finale: “Somehow the cream cheese taste in the mouth didn’t go away.” However, Wilhelmina (34) and Michel (30) are flashed by Carina’s “affairs of the heart”, even if only the passionate bodybuilder (“It’s no use”) can do the whole lot. Full points from both of them – and Carina’s “Schöner Wohnen” ambience is complemented by victory in the “Perfect Dinner” with 27 points. Then a perfectly shaped pear and quark tart!

Thursday, June 9th: “I live the fitness lifestyle,” announces Michel proudly, host on day 3 of “The Perfect Dinner” (VOX) in East Frisia. It wasn’t always like that: the 30-year-old geriatric nurse shows a photo of himself as a pudgy teenager, not at all wistful. Growing up in the Ruhr area near Herne, he suffered from croup cough as a child, which prompted his family to move to the north German coast. Today Michel lives in Aurich, is now the “daddy” of a little daughter and a competitive bodybuilder.

Therefore, he knows exactly about the connection between training, nutrition and model body. So he meticulously keeps a record of everything he eats. He compensates for frequent evening escapades in the form of ice cream (“Ice cream is my life”) with exercise. The essence of all this knowledge goes towards the Far East that evening, where he has not yet been because of his fear of flying, but at least he can greet it in North German.

Motto: “Moin Asia”

Because Michel is by no means a (pure) protein shake consumer, but a connoisseur: “For me, food is joie de vivre.” The longing of his guests is his command. “You asked for fish – then you’ll get fish,” says Michel, commenting on the juicy, shiny salmon fillets, which he marinates in teriyaki sauce for the main course and serves with cornflake-coated chicken and spicy noodles.

The starter comes in roll form: “Do you eat it with sushi?” asks Wilhelmina (34), looking at the soy sauce in the small bowl. Hildtrud’s (52) greatest satisfaction stands in the way of her initiation into Maki: “I love it that way,” coos the declared salmon fan in view of the wonderfully prepared fillet. When elementary school teacher Carina (36) discovers that both she and the host are holding knife and fork “the wrong way around”, the cohesion in the group is finally perfect – and Michel after coconut ice cream with mango-kiwi salad at the end of the dinner fabulous 9 p.m. satisfied with himself, the world and above all his “challenge”.

“As an athlete, I really like setting goals and achieving them. Today it was also the time management.” The easy-going Hiltrud went “sometimes too fast”, but she awarded 10 points, which the other two guests increased to a total of 25. Challenge fulfilled: This is currently number 1 for Michel.

Wednesday, June 8th: In Ostfriesland, as the current round on “Das Perfect Dinner” (VOX) shows, the world is still in order. Individuals always refer to their preferences and habits as “we”. The air is fresh, the countryside is teeming with sheep and mills, the homes are stately and the lots are huge.

A cute pony makes its rounds in front of Wilhelmina’s freshly moved into new house in Holtland (district of Leer). However, his owner Luisa (9) doesn’t have time to ride at the moment. Instead, she has to help her nervous mother. For an oriental fattoush salad, tomatoes need to be cut and pomegranates pitted. Because Wilhelmina (34) is fully occupied with looking for bowls and consolidating a potato dough (“Why is it so soggy now?”).

“Maybe pregnancy dementia?” speculates the social media manager and expectant mother of two herself. Whatever the case, it was enough to create an appetizing menu.

“I can cook, I can also cook freely,” Wilhelmina comments on the fact that she is preparing some elements of her menu for the first time – and that too in the first few days at home (and in the fourth month!). As a starter, there is also a curry soup with prawns in a zucchini coat and fattoush salad. In the main course, there is plenty of cream cheese in the chicken sauce, and the mysterious dessert is a cappuccino cake with a berry crêpe.

Wilhelmina fights her way through the preparations with a little jittery, but still with a lot of charm and dignity. The result shows that structure can take many forms: Just as she probably concentrates on the most important moments in her part-time job as a wedding photographer, she also conjures up all sorts of amazing things on the plates in delightful crockery.

Above all, her guests praise the soup: “It really picked me up,” says elementary school teacher Carina (36). Master hairdresser Hiltrud (52) raves about the pomegranate seeds, but not about the shrimp crust and chicken sauce: “Too heavy on cheese for me.” For geriatric nurse and bodybuilder Michel (30), the potato coins were “not the star on the plate”, but he always shouts when toasting more often “To life!”.

In the end there are 24 points for Wilhelmina, currently second place behind Hiltrud, an atmospheric evening and Wilhelmina’s insight into life: “It doesn’t always have to be witchcraft.”

You can read more about “The Perfect Dinner” on the following pages.