In Tim Mälzer’s territory, the cooking show “Kitchen Impossible”, things are usually rather rough. They act against each other in a snotty manner, usually garnished with a torrent of the worst swear words. Trash talk is part of the concept. But this year’s Christmas edition was unusually loving. For the last duel of the year, Mälzer had invited three friends: Lucki Maurer, Tim Raue and Max Strohe.

All three have been part of the show at least once – and didn’t allow their competitor the butter on the bread. But in this special, the chefs, who otherwise appear as vicious fighting dogs, proved to be tame. Instead of jumping for each other’s throats, the chefs preferred to hug each other. The episode has become a declaration of love between four friends – a blessing for the battered heart.

This time, two teams were formed to cook against each other: Tim Mälzer and Lucki Maurer as well as the two Berlin star chefs Tim Raue and Max Strohe. As usual, the teams sent each other into the unknown. This time, the teams had to cook special Christmas menus at their destination – a total of three dishes. In the end, as always, a jury decided how well the chefs did and how close their version came to the original dish. The chefs then met for a Christmas Eve together, cooked and ate together, even treated each other to presents – and looked at how the respective teams did with the tasks set.

Team 1: Tim Mälzer and Lucki Maurer traveled to Munich to recreate an original Hao Jin dish in the JIN restaurant. The chef has been awarded two Gault Millau toques.

The menu: Loup de Mer soup, baked pike-perch and fried rice with Iberico pork.

Team 2: Tim Raue and Max Strohe were able to prove themselves in Puglia, Italy. In Mattinata they were guests of a real Nonna. Lucia is the mother of Matteo Ferrantino, who cooks at the Hamburg restaurant bianc, which has two Michelin stars.

The menu: Panettone by (Marco Sforza), tagliatelle with chickpeas and baccalà in tomato sauce with foccacia (Lucia).

Max Strohe: Sashimi from the yellow river mackerel, shiso vinaigrette

At Nonna Lucia, Raue and Strohe have to work with a wood stove – and fail. Focaccia fails once, fails twice. The dough burns, it doesn’t get fluffy – in short: Strohe is about to freak out. Until he discovers a pot of dough in the corner. Could that be an approach by Lucia? Clever as they are, the two chefs steal part of the mother yeast and try number three. The result even amazed the jury . They judge unsuspectingly: “Good imitation”.

While “Kitchen Impossible” is often extremely dogged and eaten up by ambition, this time the maltsters and bricklayers were relaxed. Together with original chef Hao Jin, they emptied bottle after bottle of wine while cooking. So long until they could hardly look straight ahead, but above all could no longer speak a proper sentence. “We’re full of snot,” reported an extremely cheerful maltster. By the end of the challenge, they had drank so deeply that they had to admit that they had no idea how they put the dishes on their plates. In the aftermath, this boozy performance is visibly uncomfortable for them, but the loving way in which the two friends treated each other was so enchanting that even their competitor Strohe was touched. “You two are very, very cute […] like two rascals who have screwed up something and don’t really know what anymore.”

Raue and Strohe got a panettone out of the black surprise box in Apulia and were immediately on the battlefield. The star chefs absolutely didn’t want to see that they should bake, and such a masterpiece at that (Strohe: “That part is perversely awesome”) and then poured out self-pity. “We felt as if Santa Claus had mockingly pissed in our faces,” says Raue. “We don’t need to embarrass ourselves. I’m 48 years old, I’m not an idiot.” The two chefs got so worked up in their disappointment and anger that they threw in the towel without even trying the task. Instead of struggling with the panettona, they took baking lessons from the original baker and accepted the deduction of points.

The positive atmosphere – the short break from Raue and Strohe was quickly forgotten – carried the chefs through the Christmas edition. That was contagious and warmed the heart. Instead of the constant rabble, the cooks tried their hand at togetherness. Not everything worked out in the kitchens, but what did work out was the teamwork. They not only supported their respective teammates, treated them with the greatest respect, supported and praised them, they also found loving words for their opponents. The men kept hugging each other, and the phrase “I love you” was repeated several times.

… actually all of them, but in points the Raue/Strohe team. Although the Berliners had to pinch a point deduction because they refused to bake, they were still just ahead. Mälzer took it easy: “It’s a tradition. Now I haven’t torn anything for the seventh time at Christmas.”

Anyone who missed the Christmas edition of “Kitchen Impossible” can stream the episode on RTL.