Everyone has their off days, and the chefs who put themselves through the hellish pentathlon that is a cooking reality show often crack under the pressure. But this list isn’t about kicking the chefs who may have made fatal errors — this is a list of dishes that were, quite simply, terrible. These dishes failed hard, from conception to execution, and in some cases, the contestants had it coming. Enjoy this slideshow of the year’s best long-simmering schadenfreude, in no particular order.
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CJ and Tyler's Crumpet Burger with Spicy Pickles
We felt somewhat bad when we watched the judges on
Top Chef: Seattle tear apart this ill-conceived burger that was supposed to highlight an artisan pickle. But we've never seen Tom Colicchio more apoplectic (and arm-wavy) as he was while he critiqued the dish when he tried it for the first time: "You couldn't think of doing anything with pickles other than put them in a burger?! HOW FRIGGIN' ORIGINAL." (In fact, watching the judges try to eat a burger on a crumpet was almost like watching someone try to hold a tennis ball sandwiched between two plates.)
Frog Leg Egg Foo Yung
Ahahahahahaha, haha, ha, ha, oh goodness you really need to watch
this clip from the MasterChef auditions where some deluded young lady thinks that a frog leg egg foo yung will get her into the competition. Not included in that clip: the part where Gordon Ramsay says that it looks like vomit. But, boy oh boy, is she proud of it, for some reason.
Scallop Shake Of Punishment And Shame
Gordon Ramsay's milkshake brings all the boys to the toilet: after the blue team on
Hell's Kitchen lost a scallop-searing competition, the chef decided to teach them a lesson about wasting and destroying scallops, by forcing them to drink it as a smoothie. No, this was not made by a contestant; yes, we're including it because the entire clip reeks of schadenfreude.
Nikki's Kale, Spinach and Banana Smoothie For The Children
While this is a smoothie we'd probably down after going on a run or doing a yoga, keep in mind that Nikki's challenge on this episode of
Food Network Star was to create a dish that a four-year-old would like. On a related note, children make the most adorable faces when they're grossed out.
Tali's Weird-Ass Risotto
When you think of risotto, you think about a creamy, simple dish made with arborio rice -- not, as
MasterChef contestant Tali conceptualized, a monster green granola-rice containing cranberries, pistachio nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, and gooseberries. To top it all off: tapioca maltodextrin, which he used to create nut powders. Um, "powdery granola risotto" just made us vomit a bit.
Royce's Lobster A La Giant 12-Inch Hair And Poop
Sometimes, it's not that the woeful contestant made the wrong flavor choices and executed the dish poorly. Sometimes they just serve the judges food that's just plain unhygenic,
like that one time Hell's Kitchen cheftestant Royce served a panel of Michelin-starred chefs lobster still containing its "sh*tsack" and garnished liberally with a 12-inch-long hair.
Tali's Dijon-Rubbed Arctic Char, Bacon and Lentils
Tali did not know when to stop, did he? This time, "showing off his semi-mastery of technique" collided with "lack of restraint" and "being an idiot" in this disaster of a dish. By the by, Tali's "creative genius explosion" (his words, not ours)
got him kicked off the show.
Becky's Trifle with Raspberry-Orange Liqueur Gel, Orange Flower Water, Vanilla-Lemongrass Custard and Star Anise Cream
Oh, Becky, Becky, Becky. The fact that
Joe Bastianich spit out your trifle of way too many flavors is not the main reason that you made it on this list in the first place, though it's one of them -- it's that you were riding quite high with your many wins and your excellent plating. People just like watching downfalls. Luckily, you ended up in the finale, but life lesson: never trifle with trifle. (It's a real life lesson and not a pun, we swear.)
Art Smith's Leaning Tower Of Wedding Cake
With the caveat that the cake at least tasted all right and that he still managed to not be eliminated during the wedding episode of
Top Chef: Masters, this was one moment where Art Smith seemingly set himself up for failure. Bragging that he'd provided the cakes for All The Important Celebrities Ever, Smith took on the challenge of baking a tiered wedding cake in two days -- only for it to topple at the last minute. While his teammates rallied around him and rebuilt the cake (somewhat), it just goes to show you: Cake pride goes before a cake fall.
Aaron Carter's Macaroni Salad With Jalapeno Poppers
Hey. Hey guys. Remember that show
The one where all the D-listers got together and cooked things with Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cookoff? Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri? While there were some mildly pleasant surprises (such as Coolio being a competent chef as well as a decent gangster), we're dinging Aaron Carter's cluelessness, particularly the part where he realized that he needed to make a ranch dressing from scratch (by, of course, dumping a bottle of prepared Thousand Island dressing into a bowl of sour cream). To cap it off, he's not even that good at grinding on people while singing. What happened to Aaron's Party?