German luxury sport crossover really cooks

‘Cooking, cars and friendships.”

That’s how Ralf Dauns sums up his passions.

Born in a small German town, the ‘Soup Meister,’ so named for his soup counter in Lonsdale Quay, has spent a lifetime cultivating all three.

The cooking part is in his genes.

“My mom is a really, really good cook,” says Dauns. “She’s always cooking something. And we have a bed and breakfast at home (in Germany) with a winery so I grew up around good food and good service.”

The friendships are evident to anyone who has met the affable master chef, either stirring the pots at Soup Meister or in a social setting.
The cars?

“ I grew up 50 kilometres from Nurburgring,” he says, adding, “You had to be 18 at that time to get your driver’s license in Germany, and I had mine a week after I turned 18.”

So it’s only fitting that we’re in a fantastic German vehicle for a spin around Dauns’ hometown of North Vancouver. Along for the ride this Sunday afternoon is his granddaughter Katie, a nine-year-old who, Dauns happily reports, enjoys driving fast just like her Opa.

For a man who loves to go fast, Ralf Dauns also appreciates the need to slow down, and he’s built a thriving business that not only nourishes the body but also the soul.

For a man who loves to go fast, Ralf Dauns also appreciates the need to slow down, and he’s built a thriving business that not only nourishes the body but also the soul.
Wayne Leidenfrost,

And the 2014 Audi SQ5 is a luxury sport crossover designed to not only go fast, but to handle the corners with aplomb. Outfitted with a 349-horsepower, turbocharged 3.0-litre engine mated to an eight-speed Tiptronic gearbox, the SQ5 is well-suited to Dauns’ needs and desires. The former in the way of its large cargo bay — capable of easily swallowing two 40-litre soup cauldrons — and the latter in the form of its performance attributes, including a zero to 100 km/h time of 5.1 seconds and a regulated top speed of 250 km/h.

“This is a very nice vehicle,” Dauns says as we head west on the Upper Levels Highway to stretch the legs of the SQ5. “For me personally I like the feel of a manual five- or six-speed, but this Tiptronic feels very good.”

It’s readily apparent that the Soup Meister is as adept behind the wheel as he is working the open kitchen of his Lonsdale Quay institution that turns 20 next year.

Standing over a steaming kettle of soup all day, a man’s mind can wander, and often Dauns thinks about driving a fast car on a track.

But he does more than dream about it. Last September he was in Vegas on holiday and spent some time behind the wheel of an Audi R8 V10 on a race track.

“I did seven laps with a professional driver sitting beside me,” he recalls as we pull into Horseshoe Bay. “The first lap we did a little bit slow, and on the second one he asked me if I’d driven fast before. I mentioned I’d been on the Autobahn in a Porsche.

“So he let me go. I always think that if the traction control is kicking in on a corner, you’re doing a good job. And it was kicking in in that R8.”

No such power slides are on the program today, but as we head back to the Quay, Dauns eyes an off-ramp and asks with hope in his voice, “Do you think we have time to go up Cypress?”

How can one say no to the Soup Meister? Up we go and the roar of the V6 fills the mountain air, and the smile beams on the Soup Meister.

For a man who loves to go fast, Ralf Dauns also appreciates the need to slow down, and he’s built a thriving business that not only nourishes the body but also the soul.

“These days, everything we do is all so rushed. Everybody is so busy with their iPads or smartphones,” he notes. “I love to see a family or a dad with his young kid sitting at the counter. Just sitting there having a bowl of soup and talking. A six-year old kid enjoys a bowl of soup as much as an 80-year old grandfather.

“For me, that’s what’s important about Soup Meister. It’s not always about the money.”

(For more information, visit
[email protected]

Wayne Leidenfrost/PNG
Ralf Dauns and his granddaughter Katie check out a new Audi SQ5. The luxury crossover has both the space the chef needs for carrying soup cauldrons and the Tiptronic gearbox he likes for speed.

Ralf’s Rides
First car: 1976 Ford Escort
“It was two years old when I got it and we traded some wine for it along with some money. It was one of our regular wine customers who was working at Ford at the time. I had it for three or four years and it wasn’t that much fun to drive. What I liked about it though was it was rear-wheel drive and in the winter I’d put snow tires on it and a sack of cement in the trunk and it would go anywhere.”
Next car: Opel Ascona
“It was fuel injected, and on a good day I could get it up to 200 km/h on the Autobahn. It was a two-door with sport seats, and a lot of fun to drive.”
Other cars:
“When I first came to North America, to Windsor, I bought a 1976 Ford Thunderbird. Eight cylinder, big car, big hood. I lived just two blocks from the hotel, but I needn’t something to go to the beer store in every two weeks.”
Going native with his vehicle purchases continued with his next move, this one to Africa.
“We got a short wheelbase Toyota Land Cruiser, with everything taken out. There was a hole cut in the roof for going on safari. There was nothing fancy about that thing; it had been rebuilt three times when we got it.”
Current car: 2003 Pontiac Vibe GT
“The passenger seat folds completely flat, so when (granddaughter) Katie sits in her booster seat she can see through the front window. And it’s a six-speed manual so it is fun to drive. It’s in good shape and has less than 100,000 kilometres on it.”
Next car:
“Something like an Audi Q5 or VW Tiguan. Maybe a Mercedes-Benz GLK350. I need something with good cargo space for shopping.”
Dream cars: Porsche 911
That dream turned into a reality, albeit for just one day.
“When I turned 50 I rented a 911 when I was in Germany. That was my birthday present to myself and I took my sister with me. She likes to drive fast too. That was fun. We went on the Autobahn and the car was regulated to 250 km/h, so we got it up to that speed but no faster. It was fun to drive all the little side roads I used to drive as a kid. That thing just hugged the road.”
Audi RS6 station wagon
“You have over 400 horsepower, you have all-wheel drive, and you have enough room to go shopping at Costco. You can have the grandkids in the back.”

About Andrew McCredie