The Worst Dish Chris Santos Ever Judged On Chopped

Judges on cooking competition shows such as "Chopped" have pretty much seen and tasted it all, thanks to the ingenuity and on-the-fly thinking needed to compete in these types of programs. Sometimes, it all works out and the contestant crafts something truly spectacular and innovative, completely wowing the judges with their use of the ingredients and finesse within a limited time frame. Other times, things take a bit of a turn, and the judges are forced to sample something they'd probably rather toss in the garbage.

Chef Chris Santos has been a recurring judge on "Chopped" for over a decade now, first appearing in 2009 and still frequently popping in to share his thoughts on the dishes being crafted (via IMDb). In fact, as he told Insider, he would estimate he's eaten over 1,500 dishes on the show. There is one particular ingredient, however, that Santos names as the culprit behind the worst dish he's ever tried amidst the plethora of plated entrees he's had the privilege of sampling — chicken feet.

What makes chicken feet so problematic for competing chefs

Now, Santos doesn't have an issue with chicken feet whatsoever — after all, there's a reason they're a specialty in some cultures. When well prepared, from braised to pickled preparations, they can be incredibly tasty, as China Sichuan Food demonstrates with their instructions for dim sum chicken feet. The problem, as Santos explained to Insider, is that many chefs aren't aware of the cardinal rule of preparing chicken feet, the one that starts before you even debate what type of sauce to use or how you'd like to cook the protein — you need to remove the talons.

As Santos explained, he has seen the error several times throughout his "Chopped" judging, and he commented that "being served those chicken feet with the sharp talons still attached is rather... unpleasant." One example of the faux-pas occurred in Season 8, on an episode entitled "Trick or Treat, Chicken Feet!" (via Food Network). The judges chowed down on appetizers in the Halloween-themed episode, only to be met with claws — talk about a scary surprise. Any contestants in future episodes that get the unique protein in their baskets will have to ensure their feet have been properly prepared, so that the judges won't be biting down into a claw — after all, no matter how well you season or cook a dish, an unexpected nail in the mix will pretty much automatically ruin it.