First airing in 2005, Hell’s Kitchen is an extremely popular reality TV show in both the UK and the US. It features the wonderfully harsh Gordon Ramsay as he judges the dishes from chefs in an intense culinary competition. While there are some extremely talented chefs on the show, there are also some that are… well, let’s just say a little less talented. Here are the Top 10 Worst Signature Dishes on Hell’s Kitchen.
10. Matthew Sigel’s Exotic Tartare
Said to be one of the most polarizing contestants in the show’s history, Matt finished in sixth place in the show’s fourth season. When he presents his signature dish to Chef Ramsay, he’s confident in his abilities. He tells the cameras that his dish is going to help him stand out, and he understands what Gordon’s looking for. This is evidently not the case, because as soon as the dish is revealed, Ramsay makes a disgusted face. Raw venison, raw quail eggs, diver scallops, caviar, and white chocolate. The more he describes his dish, the more bewildered Ramsay looks. He demands that Matt stop describing it, just to make sure he’s hearing him right. He repeats the dish: chopped up diver scallops, caviar, and… white chocolate? Yes, says Matt Sigel, completely confident, wearing his black beret. Ramsay asks him if he’s been smoking certain medicinal herbs, which makes the contestants in the background cringe from the secondhand embarrassment. There’s a long silence as Gordon puts the fork in his mouth, swishing the food around to get the full experience. The music builds, and the cameras zoom in on the faces of Mathew Sigel and his fellow contestants as they wait for his judgement…. And then he spits it onto the floor. The camera focuses on the horrified looks of everyone in the room as Ramsay gags at the taste of the dish. He then tells Sigel that his dish has one of the worst combinations he’s ever tasted in twenty-one years of cooking. While we were hoping that Chef Ramsay’s reaction would help to humble Chef Sigel’s overconfidence, that doesn’t seem to be the case: in the talking head segment afterwards, Sigel states that he really doesn’t understand what Gordon didn’t like about the dish. Umm really?? Do you have tastebuds?
9. Colleen Cleek’s Smoked Chicken Enchiladas
Placing twelfth in the show’s fifth season, Colleen Cleek stood out as calm and motherly. On the very first episode that she appears in, she has to repeat her name three times, because Ramsay keeps mishearing her. He asks which of the contestants cooked the diaper, which isn’t a great start to anything, and she nervously approached the stand. She reveals that she’s a cooking instructor, despite not being a trained chef herself, and we can feel the judgement in the room magnify by ten notches. On top of that, she charges three hundred dollars per three-four hours of her instruction, which shocks Ramsay. One of his first comments is the size of her dish, to which she says that she feeds big Nebraska boys, and then she even offers to cut a slice for Ramsay. He takes a bite, then immediately spits it onto the floor. He asks her, again, how much she charges. Three hundred? To teach people how to make that? Chef Ramsay isn’t impressed in the least, and continues to insult her dish. We can see Colleen struggling to keep her mouth shut, and then she says that she teaches manners at her school as well. Gordon’s head snaps back up at her, and he asks her to repeat herself. She doesn’t, and he tells her to go back in line. Truly a disastrous first dish.
8. Carrie Keep’s Chicken Fried Rib-Eye
Ranking eighth place in the show’s ninth season, Carrie Keep was an interesting character. She was extremely flirtatious and even managed to seduce one of her fellow chefs, but she was also extremely combative and arrogant, which led to her being disliked by many of her teammates. She serves Chef Ramsay a chicken-fried rib-eye, with mashed potatoes and white truffle cream gravy, which, due to her lack of experience, isn’t the most beautifully plated, but that’s okay. Carrie then reveals that she’s added sugar into her mashed potatoes, which leaves everyone with dismayed looks on their faces. An interview segment has one of the other contestants wondering who in their right mind puts sugar in mashed potatoes, and we’re in the same boat of confusion. Carrie encourages Chef Ramsay to just try it. In her talking head interview, you can see that she’s extremely confident that he’ll love it. She claims it’s delicious, and even goes so far as to compare it to an orgasm in your mouth. Chef Ramsay immediately spits it out, and she takes it surprisingly well, just letting out a slight laugh. The other contestants laugh as well, immediately apologizing, but still with grins on their faces. All Chef Ramsay says is that her dish is disgusting, and she goes back into the line, hopefully with her ego toned down a notch.
7. Jonathon Plumley’s Punch-Drunk Chicken
With a strong Southern accent and a pushed-down mullet, Jonathon Plumley ranked in tenth place in the show’s ninth season. While he started out well, he took a downward spiral when he began to blame others for his mistakes and feuded with his teammates. When he reveals his dish, Gordon is immediately confused. It’s cubed pieces of orange, pineapple, and various other fruit laid on top of chicken. In his talking head, Jonathan seems confident, and says that if Chef Ramsay doesn’t like his dish, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He claims that he’s got that Southern flavor – raw but real. Gordon picks up the pineapple and examines it – he asks if it’s canned, to which Plumley says yes, yes it is. Plumley opened a can of pineapple and stuck it on top of a chicken. This, of course, is unacceptable, and Ramsay isn’t having it. He says that he’ll pay for the Plumley’s flight back home, but Plumley refuses. Ramsay goes on to insult the dish, saying that it’s an absolute mess, and says that because Plumley didn’t even put in the effort to cut his own pineapple, he’s not going to even taste it. Plumley ambles back into line, not at all happy with how his first dish was treated.
6. Monique Baker’s Mo’s Pasta
Widely disliked by the show’s fans, Monique Baker is described as overly shameless, annoying, defensive, and delusional. She wouldn’t admit to her mistakes and would pick fights with her teammates. In the first few moments of the show, Monique revealed herself to be somewhat insensitive, when she made comments about Alison Rivera, a chef who was originally from Jamaica. Unsurprisingly, she ranked fourteenth in the show’s fourteenth season. Monique’s dish was the last to be judged by Chef Ramsay, and she presented something that she called Mo’s Pasta. In order to win the round, she needed her dish to score a five. He takes a bite, and then asks her how she made the marinara sauce. This is when she reveals that she’s used a jarred variety, and he spits it out immediately. Everyone in the audience audibly groans, some even put their hands over their faces in shock. Who uses a jarred sauce to serve Gordon Ramsay? Monique sees this reaction, and instead of staying silent, she immediately gets offended and starts to argue with Chef Ramsay. She says that unless you’re born as an Italian, you’re not going to be making your sauce from scratch all the time. In all fairness, this is probably true for someone who cooks for themselves out of necessity, but for someone who’s on a cooking competition show… Chef Ramsay gives her a one out of five, and Monique just gives a very passive-aggressive affirmative noise before returning back to the line.
5. Chrissa Schmerler’s Ginger Crusted Chicken Breast
While she appeared to be a kind person, Chrissa Schmerler just didn’t have what it takes to be in Hell’s Kitchen and ranked eighteenth place in the show’s fourteenth season. When she reveals her signature dish to Ramsay, she says that she got the inspiration from the cookie aisle at the grocery store. Ramsay covers his face, unable to contain his laughter, and the entire audience laughs with him, to the point where it’s extremely embarrassing for Chrissa. He tells her that he’s glad she was inspired by the cookie aisle, and not the pet food aisle, prompting even more laughter from the studio audience. Gordon can’t even manage to swallow one bite, and as he spits it out, Chrissa cringes and apologizes. He gives her a one out of five, and you can hear the audience groaning in the background. She tells the cameras that she’s not used to people spitting out her food, and that it was very embarrassing. Honestly, we can’t help but feel a bit bad for Chrissa here. Oh well, maybe next time.
4. Daniel “Danny” Veltri’s Mahi with Grilled Banana
Even though Danny won the fifth season of Hell’s Kitchen, he didn’t start out too hot. At the beginning of the season, he was overly confident in his abilities and extremely arrogant. However, over the course of the competition, he quickly matured and became one of the most consistent chefs of the season. A proud redneck, Danny talks about how he loves hunting things like duck and gator, and that his favorite part about hunting is bringing the game home to cook. In the signature dish portion of the show, Danny invents a weird dish, which he later admits he made up on the spot. Mahi-mahi, also known as dolphin fish, with grilled bananas. Upon tasting it, Chef Ramsay doesn’t have much to say, except that it’s hideous. He then comments that it seems as though Danny has gone slightly bananas, to which he takes pretty well. Veltri speculates to the cameras that Ramsay is just trying to get a rise out of him, which will probably happen sooner or later, but not now. Even as Ramsay insults him, Danny keeps his cool and shakes it off, an impressive feat in these circumstances. It’s this cool attitude which helps Danny become the champion of season 5. That, and the smooth Southern accent.
3. Michael “Mike” Aresta’s Packaged Fresh Tortellini
Ranking seventeenth in the show’s twelfth season, Michael was a generally disliked contestant. Not only was he disrespectful, but he slacked off in the dorms during punishments, and he took pride in not helping out his teammates during dinner services. For his signature dish, instead of cooking something from scratch, he serves Chef Ramsay pre-package tortellini, as well as tomatoes from a can. Seriously, why do these contestants keep doing this? Not only is it a show of disrespect to not put in the effort for Chef Gordon Ramsay, it’s also a show of laziness and ineptitude. Chef Ramsay is visibly offended, and he throws the dish in the garbage while he calls it a joke. In his talking head, Mike says that he’s insulted – it’s not like it’s packaged dog food, and as he’s walking back to his place in line, Mike mutters some unclassy words, which everyone hears. Gordon summons him – ironically – like one would summon a dog, and he asks him to repeat himself. Everyone in the audience oohs and ahhs, but Mike is too cowardly to say the words to the man himself. Chef Ramsay tells him that if he has anything to say, to say it to his face, not his back. He then sends Mike back into the line, not impressed with his attitude.
2. La Tasha McCutchen’s Hickory Rubbed Grilled Watermelon
While she had a rocky start, La Tasha was actually the winner of the thirteenth season. Her calm composure and strong leadership were the things that carried her towards the finals, as well as her humble and kind personality. During the signature dish challenge, La Tasha serves Gordon Ramsey hickory rubbed grilled watermelon, which underwhelms him greatly. He grills her (pun intended) on what she’s made: he says that she had forty-five minutes to make him anything in the world, and she wasted it grilling him a slice of watermelon. With a nervous grin, she nods, and the audience laughs at her. He tells her that the rub just doesn’t work, and that he’s disappointed. Even though he only gives her one point, her team still wins, and they get to dine at the Hotel Bel-Air, with dinner cooked by Wolfgang Puck, which she’s adorably excited by. It seems as though Gordon’s criticisms were a wakeup call for La Tasha, though, because in the very next challenge, after Gordon reminds her to taste her food before serving, her risotto gets a perfect score.
1. Louis Petrozza’s Hen-in-a-Pumpkin (Pumpkhen)
The runner-up from season four, Louis got off to a bad start when he served Chef Ramsay a Cornish hen inside of a pumpkin. Upon first seeing the dish, Gordon speculates if it’s Halloween, and then asks Louis what his dish is. He’s disbelieving when Petrozza says there’s a hen inside, asking how he even managed to get a chicken inside of a pumpkin. He lifts up the pumpkin to reveal the potatoes underneath, and he’s disgusted. He asks how much grease, oil, and fat went into making them, to which Louis says he put some butter, and then corrects himself and says he put a lot of butter. Ramsay doesn’t even taste it – he throws it in the garbage, and he proceeds to take the top off of the pumpkin. Like anyone, he’s unsure of how to approach the dish, and Louis serves it for him. After calling the dish a mess, Ramsay says that he’d like to stick Louis’ head inside of the pumpkin instead, and claims that he would’ve been happier if there’d been a candle inside. He criticizes the dish, saying that the chicken is dry, and the inside of the pumpkin is bland and unseasoned. In his talking head, Louis says that Chef Ramsay was looking for something memorable, and that he believes his dish was memorable. While this is certainly true, memorable doesn’t always mean that it’s good, and this is a prime example of that.