Najwa Nimri, José María Manzanares, Inma Cuesta, Garbiñe Muguruza, Andrés Velencoso and Alejandro Sanz will all discover and reveal themselves through each recipe.

This isn’t an interview program or a cookery show, although the lead character might be chef Quique Dacosta. “Don’t expect to learn even how to peel a carrot,” warns Dacosta. One lifetime, one meal, to be released on Amazon Prime Video this coming 17th December, is a format where the three-time Michelin star winning chef rises to the challenge of taking the memories, moments, aromas and experiences from the lives of Najwa Nimri, José María Manzanares, Inma Cuesta, Garbiñe Muguruza, Andrés Velencoso and Alejandro Sanz, and “…placing them on a spoon”.

One lifetime, one meal was born in 2017, when the directors of THE MEDIAPRO STUDIO, series producers, heard the story of the dish Huevo sobre cenizas (Egg on ashes), inspired by the death of Quique Dacosta’s brother. Without realizing its significance, Quique’s mother, who always tastes his menus each season before launch, admitted that it was the only dish she had disliked, despite it being tasty. Hence the main thread of the series being that one can elaborate emotions and arouse feelings gastronomically speaking, which can prove more or less bitter with a single bite.

In each of the six episodes, Quique Dacosta prepares four dishes that reflect crucial moments from his guest’s life while the individual is seated at a table in his restaurant in Denia. Some of the celebrities chosen during the casting by Luis San Narciso, such as Alejandro Sanz and José María Manzanares, are personal friends of the chef. “To cook at this level, you really have to know someone quite well, but you also need a good stock of professional experience, not to mention knowledge and technical know-how,” admits Dacosta.

“I greatly admire all my guests. If the subject doesn’t speak to you as a person or there isn’t that emotional connection, then it just doesn’t work”, he added. Conversations with each guest in search of ideas began up to four months prior to filming. “Then dinner is real, it lasts three or four hours and they eat the dishes I’m preparing there and then. The difficult part was that the people you usually sit down for a chat with, without cameras, don’t hold back and the conversation just flows. I also didn’t want them to talk about anything they didn’t feel like discussing, because it’s not about prying information from people. I didn’t show up with even one question, just the guests’ four chosen moments as a thread”, he says. In each episode, Dacosta himself will also self-portray throughout the elaboration, so that at the end of the six episodes, viewers will also learn and discover the menu of the chef’s life.

No escape

There’s nothing worse than when someone is cooking for you, there’s no escape”, jokes Najwa Nimri. “I haven’t seen my episode and I’m worried about how I’ll end up coming across. Who knows what I’ve revealed about my life! It’s a brilliant concept, many of us wouldn’t be caught dead sharing what we share about ourselves otherwise. It’s been an all-round experience, and that’s exactly what audiences will appreciate.” added the Locked Up star.

“When you taste the dishes, you take a journey inside yourself and you get to taste that intimate moment”, reveals actor and model Andrés Velencoso, whose most bittersweet morsel came when he remembered his now deceased mother, Lucia.

“I hope the show excites, seduces and wins audiences over”

“Thanks to Quique, I was able to explain what I feel and what I do differently. We discussed fear, inspiration, dreams … and it’s difficult, because standing there in front of a bull, I can feel something quite exceptional, but with his dishes, I’m able to travel to an instant when I’m at my most vulnerable. It’s a beautiful experience, because I’ve never been able to converse in such an unadulterated manner”, acknowledged José María Manzanares.

The originality of the format has also aroused significant interest internationally. MEDIAPRO is finalizing negotiations to ensure that One lifetime, one meal can be enjoyed by audiences in Germany, Holland, Finland, Norway, Brazil and Italy, among others, and talks are underway with stakeholders in the United States, the United Kingdom and France.

“I hope the show excites, seduces and wins audiences over”, says Dacosta. The only pity is that you cannot smell or taste the food through the screen.

Helena Cortés. Journalist and audiovisual communication. ABC, AbC Play TV, ABC Play Series. I learn and teach in Universidad Carlos III