Padma Lakshmi Says This Was The Worst Dish On Top Chef

Eating delicious food at a beautiful restaurant certainly leaves a good impression, but nothing sticks out more than a terrible meal. Fortunately, if a dish isn't to your liking while dining out, you can just push your plate aside and plan to hit up the McDonald's drive-thru on the way home. However, if you happen to have the role of, say, a judge on Bravo's "Top Chef," you're required to have at least a few bites of every dish that is presented to you no matter how unappetizing they may seem.

For the most part, the cooking competition's longtime trio of judges — Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, and Gail Simmons — have had a pleasant experience tasting the competitors' meals during the elimination challenges. In fact, some of it is so good that they end up spending hours at the judge's table deciding which chef should be deemed the winner of a challenge and which one has to hear the dreaded instructions to "please pack your knives and go." But that's not to say that there hasn't been a time or two when the food on the plate has been less than ideal. Lakshmi herself can recall one instance in particular, when a dish was just flat-out bad and has no problem calling out its creator either.

Padma Lakshmi was not a fan of this disastrous vending machine meal

You would think that after 18 seasons on the air and hundreds of bites of food, the "Top Chef" judges have long forgotten the dishes that weren't up to par, but not for Lakshmi. The host didn't hold back when recanting the story of the worst meal she's ever been served on the show to Uproxx back in 2018. "Michael Midgley, on my first California season, made this weird canape with some kind of chocolate bar rolled in coconut with a Cheeto stuck in the middle of it," she explained to the outlet, noting that she was "happy" to namedrop the meal's creator.

To be fair, that Quick Fire challenge during which Midgley made the dish, did have some difficult parameters. Contestants were asked to make an amuse-bouche using ingredients that they had to purchase from a set of vending machines. Pretty much any chef will agree that those are some harsh conditions to create a meal under, but with some of the other competitors cranking out dishes like a ham and swiss cheese quiche or a duo of cracklings with lemon and rice pudding, Midgley's creation just didn't hold up. "It was just dumb and not very good," Lakshmi told Uproxx.

Chocolate and liver wasn't a winning combination for Padma Lakshmi either

There must have been something in the water where season two of "Top Chef" was filmed, as the second dish that Lakshmi dubbed the worst she's eaten on the show came out of that cycle as well. "Ilan Hall, second season, last episode," she confidently told Uproxx, and if you've been tuning in to the series since its debut in 2006, you might already know where this is going. "In a Quick Fire, he made this beautiful chocolate ganache with a morsel of liver embedded into the center of it and talk about a terrible idea," Lakshmi said of the dish. Fortunately, she was able to find one silver lining from the tasting — the "entertaining" experience of watching Hall try to defend his unique concoction to guest judge Eric Ripert.

Interestingly enough, Hall, who ended up winning season two of "Top Chef," also holds the honor of being the chef behind the best dish that Lakshmi has eaten on the show — a Spanish noodle dish with chorizo and clams (via Showbiz Cheat Sheet). "I remember eating the whole baking dish full of it, or my portion, then asking Eric Ripert who was our guest judge if he was going to eat the rest of his," she recalled.