An evening of firsts: On day 4 of “The Perfect Dinner” (VOX) in Rostock, Dao serves her guests a few premieres. For the main course, the native Vietnamese decides on saddle of venison with serviette dumplings: That puts pressure not only on her but also on the guests.

Thursday, May 19: You have to give the Rostock “The Perfect Dinner” group one thing: they are greedy for surprises. Because if the group is so international, then please also “exotic” on the table! Her need for “fragrant worlds of spices” (Bärbel) not only meant stress for the Syrian Mouaz (“I don’t want to overwhelm her with spices”) on day 2.

Bärbel also expects “all kinds of delicacies from Vietnam” from Dao (38), while Bianca (48) goes straight ahead: “It’s not really my kitchen.” Maybe that’s why Dao struggles with her menu plan to the end. In the morning of her dinner, she proudly announces: “I threw everything down”. The menu is correspondingly worthy of interpretation.

Motto: “My little journey for you”

So the enthusiastic sportswoman and volunteer junior soccer coach of SV Warnemünde has an exciting home game ahead of her: “I have no idea what my plan is.” The solution for the appetizer is: Let them “fiddle it a bit” themselves! Under the motto “Freestyle” there are “Do it yourself” variants of summer rolls and sushi, along with a cold mango soup.

After that it’s 1-0 for the mother of three boys who are also football fans: “Everything is possible, nothing has to be – that got me,” states Paul (29). It gets more precarious with the main course: Dao, who came to Germany with her mother from Vietnam as a child shortly after reunification and grew up in Dresden, decided on roast venison with serviette dumplings of all things: “My neighbor Uwe is a hobby hunter, and the deer happened to be running behind his house.”

Of course, the food delivery couldn’t be more direct, but she still sees the back and club of the unsuspecting passer-by as a major challenge: “It’s the first time I’ve got such a thing in my hand – but when will I have the opportunity again?”

The clock is already snipping towards 10 p.m. when the main course is served. “A bit dry” (Mouaz), “cold” (Bianca) is the sobering conclusion of the round, also: “The sauce lacks the oomph” (Paul). There is also an organizational problem: there is no cutlery for the main course – Dao simply brings the whole case to the table.

The dessert, which is satisfyingly “Vietnamese” again, pulls it out: “The rice balls tasted good of rice,” Bärbel attests the coconut-rice creation with sesame. The highlight, however, is a test of courage that is familiar to all Southeast Asia travelers: the stinky fruit served at the end smells like “fermented onions” for Paul, but for everyone else it tastes delicious. Nevertheless, freestyle and misguided management only bring 28 points – and thus the honorable fourth place at the moment.

Wednesday, May 18th: “Zitrone des Nordens”: This does not mean Bianca from Rostock, originally from Thuringia, who dedicates her menu to her adopted home in “The Perfect Dinner” (VOX).

Motto: “Coast Children”

The former GDR athlete shows that there is enough vitality in shrimp salad with sea buckthorn-honey-dill dressing, winter cod with mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts and sea buckthorn-yoghurt mousse when cooking with occasional sporting activities. A quick handstand against the kitchen wall and a few pushes up and down, then the passionate weightlifter demonstrates a “deadlift” again (“Now I’m Rambo, right?”): “There’s no such thing as standing still for me,” explains Bianca proudly .

At most, she stops by the fire bowl in her front yard (“My meditative place – ommm…”), otherwise the watchword is “hang in there”. As a competitive gymnast and acrobat, as a teenager she even competed with an “icy” leg – and became East German state champion: “The title still carries me through life.” And also steels her for “The Perfect Dinner”: ” Bianca is our little Duracell bunny,” says Paul (29).

Bianca completes her maritime “Captain’s Dinner” with similar confidence to her competition at the time, builds sails for chicory boats out of beetroot chips and the same thing for dessert out of chocolate lattices, according to gourmet smart-ass Paul, “maybe fry the skrej a bit too slow” on. Apart from the lack of crispiness, it only leaves enthusiastic guests: “Look, everything is eaten”, is the proud and satisfied reaction of Bärbel (67) and Mouaz (27).

The feedback makes the wiry Bianca just as emotional as her sporting title from the 1980s: “I impressed myself today. Thank you for that,” she says through touched tears. So she is at the top of the podium at the halfway point of the Rostock round with 35 points – with more than brilliant A and B grades.

Tuesday, May 17: Now it’s going to be oriental at the “Perfect Dinner” (VOX). On day 2, Mouaz (27) from Syria decided to introduce the Rostock gourmets to the world of spices and flavors of his home culture: “I’ve been eating all these dishes since I was a child.” Sure, almost everyone knows hummus and tabbouleh by now – but what’s hiding behind maqluba, lotus cake and the Syrian version of “chicken thighs and diced potatoes with paprika sauce”?

Motto: “1001 nuances of taste immerse yourself in the world of the Orient”

But that’s the thing with expectations. The ones that the Rostock “Dinner” round addresses to Mouaz’ menu are high – and not entirely free of clichés. Real spice clouds, lavishly decorated plates and surprising taste symphonies are on the wish lists of Dao (38), Paul (29), Bärbel (67) and Bianca (48). But Mouaz is a rather sober guy. The greatest recognizable extravagance hangs on the wall of his room: the attractive dentistry student beams from the cover of the industry magazine “Der Junge Dentist” – of course with dazzling white teeth.

His dinner is also technically flawless: hummus garnished with the sumac spice mix like out of a picture book, cheese pockets with black sesame seeds that Mouaz simply frys in a pan without a deep fryer, chicken thighs “gilded” with lots of turmeric and the “slowly and with love” Dish Maqluba with lamb, eggplant, rice and roasted nuts to be thrown out of the bowl. His personal highlight, although he doesn’t really see himself as having a “sweet tooth”, is the lotus cake, a tiramisu variant made from biscuits and cream cheese (“It’s actually always sold out in Syria”), which will definitely ensure the continued existence of his envisaged profession in the long term.

Mouaz learned how to cook from his grandmother: “It was always a family affair for us”. And so he also receives support for the “Perfect Dinner” from his mother (table decoration), his twin brother (pat on the back) and sister Maryam (16), who cuts tomatoes: “A brother who can cook well is very practical.”

But the longer the dinner progresses, the more cautious the guests react: the hoped-for overpowering does not happen. “Have you held back because of us?” Biance asks about the spices she lacks. Bärbel misses the “unknown”, and Paul, who tends to be clever about the culinary art, even has suggestions for improvement: “I always make my hummus with garlic. Mouaz, however, was more concerned with the taste of the components: “I thought that they might not like too many spices.”

The (too little) spoiled oriental round table still awarded 29 points – and Mouaz is satisfied with himself and the world: “Just the fact that I’m taking part here shows me that I’m well integrated.”

Monday, May 16: What to do if a menu card only offers color combinations? That’s right: “Respect yourself and be open” – that is at least the life motto of hostess Bärbel on day 1 of “The Perfect Dinner” in Rostock.

Motto: “My color menu”

At least when it comes to “green”, Bärbel, who has a wide range of interests, gives an idea of ​​the ingredients: she loves everything that grows on the ground in this color. Herbs are everything to her. In order to find out more about how they are used and how they work, she attended a “herbal master school” and is flirting with further online studies. “Nature grounds us so much,” she explains her fascination. And so none of her courses get along with a dash of greens – from the Prosecco aperitif to the inside of her baked char and edible blossoms on the salad.

But so that it doesn’t get too earthy, there is pike soup as a starter, for which Bärbel is known “Baltic Sea wide” according to his own statement. After all, the group gathers in a city right by the sea. “In Rostock I feel like a celebrity in California,” said Dao (38), who was born in Vietnam, in praise of her adopted country. “Here, nothing can distract me from studying like in Berlin, for example,” is the verdict of Syrian dentistry student Mouaz (27), somewhat more pragmatic. “An exciting neighborhood,” says Bärbel again, looking out of her window.

In view of the menu, he expects “an alternative woman with a penchant for creativity,” assumes Paul (29) and is right. Not only does each guest receive a self-sewn bracelet and a handwritten menu with explanations of herbs (“rosemary promotes self-love”). Bärbel dyes the puff pastry for the starter green with spinach juice, wraps it around a wooden skewer like a snail and sweetens a few pieces for the dessert.

Such sophistication doesn’t fail to have an effect: “I’m in love with the fish,” says Paul, letting the char melt in his mouth. Bianca (48), on the other hand, is more fond of the orange side dish: “I’ve never tasted carrots so delicious.” The reason: dill, carrot greens, cumin and many other stalks.

On day 1 in Rostock it tastes very good: It’s not for nothing that Bianca has already won 2nd place in a competition by star chef Johann Lafer. In Warnemünde, she combines this with loving attention. For Bianca it is “like coming home to mom”. Warm-hearted, but unfortunately not perfect: “I have to make compromises when it comes to serving temperature and consistency.” Nevertheless, Bärbel sets the bar quite high with a total of 34 points: fresh herbs and in all possible colors.

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