HEIDELBERG, Germany - Lance Milsted is what you might call a foodie. His palate has a passion for all types of cuisine whether it's Italian, Tex-Mex, German or Norwegian. The Wisconsin native is also pretty comfortable behind the stove, whipping up his own dishes that include everything from lasagna to lutefisk, a Norwegian fish.

Milsted is the operations manager for American Forces Network Heidelberg and he, along with Sgt. 1st Class Adam Shaw, AFN Heidelberg's station commander, have channeled that passion into prime time programming.
"I've been in this job for seven months and I watched a lot of Food Network programming back in the states. They were things that were interesting to me and entertaining since I really enjoy cooking," Milsted said.

After coming to Germany he became interested in finding places that were fun to go to eat when he noticed a void for that type of information. Milsted wanted to do something about it.

His observation along with feedback from viewers and even some of the AFN Soldiers helped to create the concept for "Guten Appetit," AFN Heidelberg's new traveling cooking show premiering Monday. The show visits local restaurants to sample and savor some of the area's best dishes.

"We had two focus groups of about 20 people and they said, 'We're tired of seeing the commander talking to us and telling us what we can and can't do. We see all these sexual assault spots,'" Shaw said.
"But what they really wanted was to see more things out in the community. They wanted to know what was out there to do. Where were the places to eat' And that was a big driving force to know that a show like this could be successful," Shaw said.

"Guten Appetit" is slightly modeled after Food Network favorites such as "Roker on the road," Rachel Ray's Tasty Travels" and "Road tasted with the Neelys" but with an AFN spin.
The AFN film crew will call ahead to the selected restaurant and set up a date and time to film the kitchen staff preparing their signature dishes from start to finish. Afterwards everyone digs in for a sample.
"That's my favorite part of the show," Shaw said. "We've been lucky to have eaten some really good food so far."

Producers admit they are still experimenting with the show's formula to get the most out of each episode.

One technique viewers may notice is the use of hand-held camera techniques designed to capture each detail in the kitchen up close and personal.

So far the crew has shot about three episodes including one at the Skyline Restaurant in Mannheim, and they're on the hunt for more restaurant suggestions, especially from AFN viewers.
"They can definitely make suggestions to us because that's what we want. We want our viewers to take ownership in this and help us get the word out about great places to eat," Milsted said.

"The more participation the better," Shaw added. We've only eaten at so many places ourselves so I know there are a lot of people who have favorite restaurants that not a lot of other people know about and we want to share that ... and we also want to make sure we're not going to the same places that Americans are already going to. A lot of places that are right outside of the gate are where you get taken to your first day in the country. We're trying to avoid places like that. We want people to venture out to a little bit more to enjoy something unique."

AFN Heidelberg also hopes to eventually expand the program to other areas outside of the Baden-WAfA1/4rttemberg footprint to allow some of their AFN sister stations to share their top picks for good grub. The show will repeat each evening for two weeks whereupon a fresh show will be aired.

The first episode of "Guten Appetit" is scheduled to air Dec. 6 on AFN Prime Atlantic.
Viewers can also go to http://heidelberg.afneurope.net to view the full episode.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16