This ZDF format is not for the faint of heart

Anyone who wants to print out the entire Internet would need countless billions of sheets of paper. And it would probably take several lifetimes to see all the videos that have ever been uploaded to the web. So you can quickly get lost there. In the ZDF media library, for example. Or rather, in the “Better Esser” section, which is attached somewhere to the documentary label “ZDFzeit”, which has stood for everything and nothing at all for ten years.


Where it was just about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj, Harald Lesch suddenly came around the corner next week to explain facts about UFOs, and “ZDFzeit” also mastered the leap from Roland Kaiser to Duchess Kate to Vladimir Putin bravura. However, the programs in which the TV chef Nelson Müller pulls out the so-called fat or sugar compass, or his colleague, the product developer Sebastian Lege, explains the supposed “tricks of the food industry” within three quarters of an hour are usually the best received by the audience. unraveled.

Lege is obviously also something like the secret star of the aforementioned “Better Esser” section, with which ZDF has been trying for some time to extend the TV success of the food documentaries to the Internet – and is not too bad about it, to lower the bar as far as possible. For this, the broadcaster came up with the “Better Esser Challenge”, a kind of “Kitchen Impossible” for the undemanding. In each of the approximately 13-minute clips, Lege is presented with an industrial product in order to imitate it in as much detail as possible.

As the Vox show shows in a slightly modified show, this could be both interesting and entertaining. But for some inexplicable reason, Lege, together with his assignee named Flo, makes every episode a laughing stock. Completely hyper and hyper, the trained chef laughs or yells at the camera with admirable freedom from pain – and if things are going really badly, he even does both together. The interplay between the two protagonists is probably meant to be funny, but in most cases it comes across as the half-baked stage program of a mediocre young comedian at best. It remains unclear why Lege, who once mimed the cooking clown in the long-forgotten Kabel-Eins show “Quiz mit Biss”, always has to become a comedian, when his strengths obviously lie in the culinary arts.

©ZDF
Sebastian Lege with full commitment.

Even the thumbnails, with which ZDF wants to draw attention to the challenges produced by Story House in its media library and on YouTube, give an insight into this video world of horror: Lay wide-eyed next to toaster strudel, lay down half donuts his ears, put Benjamin Blümchen in his mouth. No, this is really not for the faint of heart. In an episode where Lege is asked to make instant tea, his assignee Flo reveals to him that he is now afraid of him, whereupon the chef pets him and finally lets out a loud laugh – which the production later accompanied with a reverberation. effect was added, presumably to further illustrate the extent of the torment.

In another episode, before the product guessing game that precedes the challenge, Sebastian Lege has to put on a mask with big cat eyes, which leads him to ask: “Tell me, does that make you a little horny?”. Shortly afterwards, Flo squirts a small amount of spray cheese into his mouth, which Lege spits right back onto the table the next moment. It doesn’t get any better when Lege and his partner try to start the video with a Viennese dialect while baking Neapolitan waffles, which probably makes every real Viennese’s ears bleed.


Unfortunately, this is all as bad as it sounds, and it’s completely unclear which target group is supposed to find these videos even remotely funny. “He knocks you out like in amateur theater,” says Sebastian Lege in the Neapolitaner episode about Flo. Strictly speaking, however, his statement tragically applies to the entire show, which, whenever it threatens to become interesting, suddenly veers into the ridiculous. The fact that the videos with titles such as “Ulkige Ufonauten”, “Glutamat Gangster” or “Dreister Döner” come along in veraintveenous alliteration is not surprising.

But the truth is that some magic must emanate from Lege’s disturbing “better eaters” videos. Said Spühkäse episode (of course described as “Schräger Sprühkäse”) has more than 700,000 views on YouTube, and there will be a few more in the ZDF media library. The production of further episodes is therefore to be feared. And who knows, maybe there will even be a comedy show with the chef. “The Cooking Show” maybe? Or “7 days, 7 pots”? It comes from the humor.