The Worst Dish Amanda Freitag Ever Ate On Chopped - Exclusive

You don't have to be a fan of cooking competitions to enjoy Food Network's "Chopped." The fast-paced show has something for every type of viewer, including everything from recipes with improbable ingredients to tear-jerking upsets. Of course, people also look out for the praise — or disdain — of the "Chopped" judges, including celebrity chef Amanda Freitag. The New Jersey native has been with the series since its debut in 2009. In celebration of the show's 15th anniversary, we at Mashed sat down with Freitag for an exclusive interview to discuss some of her favorite moments on "Chopped." However, not all of the chef's memories are sweet. In fact, some of the dishes she's judged over the years have been downright dreadful.

On a high-stakes show like "Chopped," a single mistake is all it takes to leave a bad impression. Still, few errors are so egregious that the judges are still talking about them years down the line. During the show's very first season, Freitag encountered one of its worst desserts to date, an upside-down plum cake prepared with salt in place of sugar. "That was extremely memorable on so many different levels," she tells Mashed. In our interview with the "Chopped" star, she spared no details in her account of the moment she tasted the cake.

The worst Chopped dessert emerged early on in the series

On the fourth episode of "Chopped," contestant Luis Gonzalez sought to win over the judges in the final round with a scrumptious-looking upside-down almond and black plum cake. While his initial attempts at wowing the judges had proved successful, the panelists started to pick up on some serious errors in judgment from the New York-based chef toward the end of the episode. "Does it scare you to see Luis sort of just ... eyeballing those ingredients in?" asked Ted Allen at the time. "Well, maybe he's really comfortable with that recipe," responded Amanda Freitag. The judging panel had no way of knowing that Gonzalez's hasty baking technique would soon lead to bigger problems.

"He was nervous and he didn't taste as he went through his competition, but made it to the dessert round," Freitag tells Mashed. "When he got to the dessert round — unknowingly — he used salt instead of sugar." Considering the chef's success in earlier rounds, the judges were taken aback by the heavily salted cake placed before them. "He presented his cake to us so proudly and he had no idea," explained Freitag. "And I took a big bite, and we were always excited to get to the dessert round, and it was like a mouthful of ocean water." As the shock settled in and with a mouthful of salty cake, Freitag knew she had to make a decision about what to do next.

Freitag remembers the cake as the worst dessert on Chopped

In one of the most awkward moments on "Chopped" we're not likely to forget, the panel exchanged panicked glances as they started connecting the dots. As far as Amanda Freitag was concerned, the dessert may have been one of the worst bites she'd tasted in the history of the show. "We had never encountered anything this bad, this big of a mistake," said Freitag. "And I'm looking at my fellow judges, and we're all sort of like, 'What do we do?' I wanted to spit it out, but I didn't. I didn't want to be the Simon Cowell of 'Chopped.'"

Contestant Luis Gonzalez sensed something was wrong when he scanned the troubled faces of judges Scott Conan, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Freitag. "We said, 'Hey chef, is there any way you might've used salt instead of sugar?' And then you could see it just washed over him and he was mortified," she tells Mashed. To make matters worse, Gonzalez was in the running for first place before the unfortunate error. "He would've had it in a bag," says Freitag. Gonzalez's slip-up may have cost him the competition, but there's a silver lining: It's also given us some wicked ideas for our next April Fools' joke.