As a judge on TV's Top Chef, I know I'm meant to be impartial. But my heart just broke during the finale of Season 5, in New Orleans, when my beloved Carla Hall presented her last course: the tiniest little apple tartlet, a few leaves of salad and a dollop of kumquat marmalade. Clearly, something important was missing from the plate. It turned out that Carla hadn't even brought out the main part of the dish, a blue-cheese soufflé: Instead of rising, it had curdled in the oven.
If only I could have jumped over the judges' table and helped her in the kitchen! Since I obviously can't do that on the show, I've chosen instead to do it right here. Inspired by eight of the all-time-worst recipe disastersfailures of concept or execution, of technique or imagination, or sometimes all of the aboveI have created my own foolproof versions.
These recipes not only satisfy my personal desire to redeem our contestants, they can easily be made by any home cook, Top Chef or not. Now you be the judge.