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.