For almost 17 years, VOX’s pre-evening program would be unimaginable without it: the cooking documentary “Das Perfect Dinner”, in which five cooking enthusiasts from one city cook up a big meal and invite each other over. The competition also acts as a jury and awards points for food, but also for hospitality – and at the end of the week it is clear who gave the “Perfect Dinner”. This week it’s that time again: Since January 16, 2023, the new episodes from Graz that were recorded in autumn 2022 have been broadcast.
These five from Graz are boiling up this time
Among the five candidates is hairdresser Christoph Skoff aka drag queen Gloria Hole, who gave another glimpse into his private life after appearing in Love Stories and Marriage Matters on Wednesday. Also: Verena (39), on maternity leave, Isabella (62), childminder, Lisa (32), managing director of a company that breeds insects for consumption, and last today Niclas (35), operations assistant from Bruck an der Mur. Whoever wins the fourth “Perfect Dinner” from Graz will then decide with him in Bruck.
Day 5 with Niklas: In the end, the last one was the first
On the fifth and last day, a trip to the Mürztal was finally announced, where candidate Niclas Neukamp lives – under the expressway, but with a view of the forest. The bar was high, his wife raised it even higher: “Of course he’s going to win,” she said into the camera. He himself did not deny the ambition: “If the overall package is right, then victory can also look out.” When it comes to cooking, the operations assistant proved to be a tinkerer – he worked with vacuum-fermented vegetables, with glucose syrup or with a Bunsen burner for scorching and showed his second kitchen in the garage, where his bicycles usually live.
After an aperitif with ginger and lemons from Styria, it’s time to finalize the starter, a Japanese-inspired salmon. There is a small fire show for the guests in the kitchen (“I think a professional is at work,” comments Lisa), and there is cold wasabi ice cream as a contrast to the hot salmon. “It tastes fantastic,” was the tenor of the guests, only Bella would have liked “a little more Japan”: “It was a bit too gentle.” For Monday candidate Verena, who has only recently started eating fish, it was even the first salmon of her life: “…but he convinced me!” It will probably not be the last.
The main course, a Thai-inspired deer, which Niklas cooks sous-vide, is visually spectacular (“Wow, so many beautiful colors on one plate!”). He also serves pumpkin from his own garden, preserved with fish sauce, ginger juice and orange oil. “The meat was pink, soft and melted in your mouth,” the guests praised the saddle of venison. But also the side dishes: “The pumpkin puree was an experience, I felt like a little star,” comments Christoph.
But as soon as the main course begins, the host warns: “The dessert is pretty heavy!”. It is a ball-shaped mousse with a caramel center and brownie with freeze-dried raspberries. Despite massive swarming, only Christoph manages to eat them – for which there is even a tiny trophy. “There’s only one word, foodporn!” he praises.
After dessert, the points are distributed, as is usual at the end of the week, each guest simultaneously reveals the card with the points that the others have given him. Lo and behold, Niklas is the “simply speechless” winner, with 37 points and one point ahead of Tuesday’s candidate Bella. She’s not sad at all: “You made great cinema!” She praises.
Day 4 at Lisa’s: A dinner, almost like in a jungle camp
© ITV Studios Germany, Screenshots VOX
Day 4 is one that requires a lot of courage – candidate Lisa also put her “Perfect Dinner” under this motto. The Carinthian who lives in Graz-Ries and in the Lavanttal is an insect breeder, even the largest in Austria. What some associate at most with a jungle test in the disgusting show (yes, also currently running) “I’m a star, get me out of here” is for them the future of food – insects as part of food. They are therefore also part of her three-course menu – although she largely leaves it up to the guests whether they want to enjoy their meal “with” or “without”.
That would be: A chestnut soup with bacon croutons or an “apple courage mix”. The latter consists of fruit mixed with roasted mealworms, which are also available for snacking and tasting beforehand. “Like snips or popcorn – just crunch,” promises the hostess. But admits: “It’s a test of courage. If you don’t dare, there’s also chocolate.” All four guests dare to pay, but not all are convinced: “I’d rather eat popcorn,” says Verena. The two women then prefer to eat their dinner without insects, while the men, with Christoph leading the way, lash out enthusiastically. When asked “Would you like to watch how a grasshopper is cooked?” are all there immediately.
The grasshopper is then added as an extra (“salt hopper”) to the lamb’s lettuce, which Lisa serves with a bacon-wrapped chicken fillet. For dessert, she uses balloons to make a chocolate-worm bowl filled with lemon sorbet and fruit mousse.
A perfect dinner? The insect dinner is not enough for the highest rating, there are 30 points – the same number as Gloria Hole the day before.
Day 3 at Christoph/Gloria: soul striptease with glamor factor
The middle of the week was eagerly awaited – it was the turn of candidate Christoph Skoff, a well-known hairdresser in Graz, with his drag queen alter ego Gloria Hole. He had promised an evening with a high glamor factor – which she then redeemed with flying colors. The opponents were initially guessing about the menu, which was written in French. However, less for culinary reasons: “It has more glamor and it sounds sexy – even if I don’t understand it myself,” said the hairdresser.
At first Christoph cooked relaxed in a sweater and cap, then the viewers were allowed to watch him transform into Gloria in the bathroom, with “three layers of make-up – that’s also a protective coat”, as he later explained to the guests while eating . What you also learned: “I wear almost all of my clothes only once, but they are kept, like the wigs, with my mom in southern Styria.” You wouldn’t find anything from Gloria in his apartment apart from a make-up drawer: “The apartment is Christoph’s place.”
Of course, Gloria then welcomed the guests – with strong evening make-up, platinum blonde hair and a tight leather dress by the Graz designer Manuel Essl. In the courtyard of the small apartment not far from the Graz Opera, she gave the guests a reception that was clearly inspired by the Aiola bars: with a huge balloon sculpture and an Amouro olive drink that you know from the Bar Amouro. The style of the magnificently laid table (“It can never be enough, according to the hostess”) may have looked familiar to Graz restaurant visitors.
The three-course menu with ginger and carrot soup, Wellington beef fillet with celery puree (“If you make a bed out of the puree, I’ll sleep in it,” says Niklas) and a raspberry Charlotte came with drawbacks (“The meat was much too through, the quality has gone down,” says Bella) well received, in view of the fact that ready-made ingredients such as puff pastry and ladyfingers were also used, the guests are gracious.
Apparently Gloria was more fascinated than the culinary offerings – who openly talked about her and Christoph’s life, for example about an unmasking in front of the audience, which became a soul striptease. “Christoph is a very sensitive person and Gloria is a strong personality,” summarizes Bella. “A dinner at Gloria’s: perfect! But it wasn’t the perfect dinner,” is Niklas’ conclusion. There are two times seven and two times eight points, so a total of 30 – and provisional second place.
Day 2 with Bella: “Lots of alcohol” as a kitchen secret
Candidate Isabella, called Bella, was Italian on Tuesday. In the childminder’s 108 square meter apartment in the old building on Mandellstrasse, small children usually scurry around during the day (“There must have been around 300 over the years”). This time, the Italy fan (“I go to Italy almost once a month, mostly to Friuli”) was accompanied with the cameras while preparing an Italian menu – and while shopping at the Kaiser-Josef-Markt.
The 62-year-old cooked in a very experienced and relaxed manner and also revealed a lot of kitchen tips when cooking for her competitors (e.g. with the champagne risotto: “Lots of alcohol!”). How did your food arrive? The risotto was “simply bomb” for Niklas, opinions differed on the grainy consistency (Verena prefers it properly cooked, Lisa says “I wanted it exactly the way she made it”), for Christoph it was the same The shrimp that was served was not cooked enough, for Niklas “it was just there”. It continued with chicken breasts stuffed with feta and herbs, and aubergines rolls plus braised aubergines and tomatoes in a glass (the latter was for Niklas “the highlight, because it had a whistle, it really hit me – a dream”). The chicken (pronounced “Hähndl” by the presenter, by the way) was “juicy and perfect”. Even Lisa and Christoph were convinced, although she doesn’t like feta and he doesn’t like tomatoes. “An absolute very good” awards Verena, and Brucker Niklas a top Styrian “Woutl”.
At the end, people also rave about the dessert, which promises heaven and hell with white and dark chocolate mousse (Christoph: “I’ll definitely take hell”). “Light as a feather, although it’s a calorie bomb,” sums up Niklas: “You could have slept in it, as soft as it was.” The hostess is very satisfied: “Because the group was just perfect for me – that’s why it was a perfect dinner for me.” What’s in it? With 36 points (9, 8, 9 and 10), candidate number two “just missed the perfect dinner” for most.
Day 1 with Verena: The bar is set high in the dream apartment
It started on Monday with Verena Kubinzky-Papik, who initially not only impressed the other candidates with her old building dream high above the rooftops of Graz: 250 square meters, 4.20 meter high ceilings, three kitchens – and a roof terrace with one fantastic view over the old town and to southern Styria. Attentive Kleine readers should already be familiar with the apartment: colleague Carmen Oster visited Kubinzky-Papik last summer for a home story.
The young mother (“One is more concerned with bodily fluids than projects”) is doubly excited – it is also the first evening without Baby Moritz. The woman from Graz, who was registered by her husband, inspires her guests with champagne on the roof terrace and her “hammer booth” (quote Christoph), which also triggers pragmatic reactions (“You need hours until you find your child”, quote Lisa). But the food also scores points: There is a truffled chestnut cappuccino with wild pralines – with the guests complaining about the amount (“a soup should contain more than five spoons,” says candidate Isabella), but the taste is convinced. The main course – veal cheeks on mushy peas, with mushrooms and port wine jus – comes from Verena’s wedding menu, the pretty serving is praised (“The eye eats too!”), but also the “meg tender meat”. And the dessert, a warm chocolate cake with fresh pear ice cream, tastes “pretty awesome,” as candidate Niklas puts it.
Incidentally, the latter has been targeted – by Christoph, who calls Brucker (who is married to a woman) “a waste of the straight world”.
In the end there are 29 points for the first candidate – so there is still room for improvement.
The photos from the dream apartment:
Broadcast has already been a guest in Graz three times
The show has already been a guest three times in Graz: In 2019, Renate Zierler from St. Radegund near Graz was able to convince everyone – the nurse is not only a hobby cook and cooking blogger, but also started a very successful charity campaign after her victory called: Together with Austrian star chefs, she puts their culinary childhood memories on the plate and collects money for the SOS Children’s Village with the dishes that are then also on the menu in the restaurants – as recently with Armin Assinger.
Two years earlier, Graz entrepreneur and artist Philipp Grein (28) had won with a purely vegetarian menu. And in 2018, Petra Großschädl, head of the Sax ice cream parlor, was among the candidates.