The Worst Insults On TV Food Competitions Ever

Most of the time, we watch cooking competition shows not for the sheer art of cooking, but for the reality TV level of drama and tomfoolery masked as creative expression. Things get heated not only between competitors, but between the judges or TV show hosts where the intensity can be felt from the other side of the screen. Some of the insults exchanged elicit an uncomfortable chuckle but others are so brutal that it makes you flinch while watching someone's ego viciously ripped apart. Notoriously, Gordon Ramsay has been considered the master of quippy and original insults from the famous "idiot sandwich" remark to the meat or flip flop comparison.

While his roasts and jabs may be the most recognizable, other hosts and judges like the late Anthony Bourdain or Joe Bastianich, former judge on "MasterChef," make Ramsay's comments look innocent. Some food competition shows, like "Chopped" and even "Worst Cooks in America" are surprisingly cutthroat and sharp-witted compared to heart-palpitating shows like "Kitchen Nightmares." Sometimes, we just love watching the drama unfold like a fly on the wall and hope that we never have to be on the receiving side of these competitions' gnarly insults.

A disgrace to German food

"MasterChef" is one of those competition shows that's ripe with intensity from the high-speed cooking challenges to the stinging insults spewed from the judges, Gordon Ramsay and Joe Bastianich. In Season 2, chef Jennifer Behm, was running on a high until Episode 13 where she presented a Pennsylvania Dutch plate with pork and sauerkraut inspired by the dish she grew up eating.

However, Ramsay didn't look impressed with her dish, declaring "you don't look like you have achieved much" as she tried to explain that it will look better when it's all mixed together. After a few measly bites, Ramsay shook his head and told the world that it was "disgusting ... that's a joke ... and I think one of your weakest performances in this competition." He then compared it to a pig going to the bathroom on the bowl and then audibly spit out the food sans napkin.

Bastianich, with his menacing eye contact, slowly took a bite almost grinning with the plethora of possible insults. He picked the plate up, threw the silverware into a bus bin, said "this is a great example of what garbage looks like" and threw it into a trash can.  Despite the tears in Behm's eyes and the possibility of going home (via Youtube), she survived the challenge and went on to win the season. Since then she's started a catering company called Pink Martini Catering (via Louisiana Seafood) and opened a restaurant that closed in 2020 (via The Providence Journal).

A panna cotta's textured nightmare

"Chopped" feels like a less-intense cooking show with the randomness of a pantry cleanout meal. Most of the time, chefs manage to take the most unthinkable ingredients and create something that's both spontaneous and delicious. On the other hand, some chefs are dealt a bad hand and just don't know when to fold. In one episode, in particular, a poorly-chosen dessert was the spawn of one of the gnarliest insults in "Chopped" history.

This episode of "Chopped" was set apart from the others because the mystery ingredients were chosen by the viewers, meaning the ingredients would be both random and slightly disgusting. Chosen ingredients from fans for the appetizer and dinner round ranged from whole chicken in a can and potato tots to lime gelatin and imitation crab. 

That being said, the dessert round really set chefs up for failure with the chosen ingredients being kale, fruit cocktail, cottage cheese, and marrow bones. One contestant, Tre, decided to present a cottage cheese panna cotta with a bone marrow ganache which judge, Scott Conant, asserted was "one of the worst things I've ever put in my mouth." Even though the judges enjoyed the bone marrow ganache, the panna cotta was the nail in Tre's coffin and they left the competition empty-handed (via Food Fanatic).

A tense argument between Chopped competitors

There are times on food competition shows where the intensity between competitors is more palatable than the worst of insults from the judges. However, the dessert round of Season 3, Episode 3 is one where tempers flared, shots were fired, and fans wondered if the judges really did know best (via Food Network).

It was the final minutes of the dessert round when contestant Joe realized his cake failed to cook properly and attempted to make a pancake from the batter. Opposing competitor, Joshua, finished early and basked in the possible win he had in the bag. As expected, Joe presented a catastrophe of a dessert with only a mousse and sauce –– sans cake or pancake. The judges asked Joshua if he would be willing to let his opponent bring over the tattered remains of his cake to try, to which he responded that it would be unfair since they are supposed to be judging solely what's on the plate. It is a competition, but Joe quickly retorted that they "aren't even on the same playing field" since his first two dishes blew them out of the water.

The judges thought the presentation of Joe's dish was " a disaster at best" but loved the overall flavor. Joe clapped back by saying his three courses were better despite being incomplete, and he ultimately snagged the win despite an incomplete dish (via Youtube). Major burn.

A Top Chef judge is accused of being a sellout

"Top Chef" is the classic food competition show with the perfect amalgam of delicious food, incredibly complex challenges, and standout celebrity judges. All-Stars Season 8 was no exception but was also the spark that started an all-out feud between a judge and eliminated contestant. Cheftestant, Elia Aboumrad, was the first to be eliminated that season for her disastrous fish dish but not without using reverse psychology to try to save herself from elimination (via TV Guide).

However, Aboumrad did not leave quietly. In an exit interview, Aboumrad dissed judge Tom Colicchio by explaining that "he has become someone who is not all about the food anymore. He's not all about supporting farmer's markets ... and there's only corn-fed beef on all his menus now" (via Eater). She also called him a sellout in regards to a Diet Coke commercial Colicchio appeared in saying that "for a chef of his caliber [that commercial] didn't belong" (via Youtube).

Colicchio quickly replied that he's bought "more produce from farmer's markets than Elia has seen in her life" and that "she should focus on making better food" (via Eater). If that burn wasn't hot enough, their tiff quickly escalated at the reunion where Aboumrad went as far as to secretly investigate Colicchio's restaurant kitchen and question his sous chef about their sourcing. Colicchio kept his cool by explaining that the elimination was not personal and to "be careful what you say in the press" (via Eater).

A passion fruit fondue gone wrong

It's impressive to find someone whose insults are so soul-crushing that it makes Gordon Ramsay almost look sympathetic. Former "MasterChef" judge, Joe Bastianich, looks at every unfortunate-tasting dish with an insidious glare that is worse than 1,000 Ramsay insults and gruesome metaphors. A Season 1, Episode 8 dish made by contestant Slim was the unlucky recipient of a seriously brutal tongue-lashing from the judges.

Slim presented an unromantic neon passion fruit fondue course with shrimp, lamb, and fruit skewers. Strike one was neglecting to cut the fat off lamb, making for a chewy and unsatisfying first bite. Ramsay then coughed while saying that there was a lot of ginger in the fondue and "if we were on a date and you cooked that dish for me, I would go to the bathroom and you would never see me again. I'd bolt out the door." 

Bastianich again refused to taste the dish but instead exclaimed that it was "a buffet gone bad" and threw it into the garbage can in the same theatrical fashion. Ramsay's florescent tan intensified into a blushed red and the room remained still with shock but not disbelief knowing that it was an end to Slim's time at the competition (via Youtube).

An on-brand Anthony Bourdain insult

Anthony Bourdain had a way of making brutal honesty a personality trait. Bourdain made "Top Chef" what it was for the five years he was a judge, modeling his critiques the way you would a crudely written yet creative sonnet (via Eat Like Bourdain). However, the way he seamlessly constructed and whipped up insults was hard not to watch and something that fans found hilarious at others' expense.

In All-Stars Season 8, Bourdian and heart-throb fan favorite, Fabio, were feuding head-to-head throughout the season, but Bourdian landed the initial insult blow in the season premiere. In the elimination challenge, Fabio presented handmade caserecci pasta with crawfish and crab stew –– a beige-looking spaghetti art project topped with wilted basil leaves. 

All of the judges detested the dish, but not more than Bourdain who "really, really, really [hated] it." Bourdian then compared it to "an inside-out animal. It's appalling," a comment that rang loud and clear in Fabio's head. After quarreling more with Bourdain after being in the bottom three, Fabio eventually lived on to cook another dish in the competition and the oh-so-familiar Elia Aboumrad was eliminated instead (via Entertainment Weekly).

Buddy the Elf-inspired pasta

"Worst Cooks in America" is the antithesis of every cooking show we have ever known, where contestants strive to be the best of the worst to find redemption from their scary culinary skills. It's hard not to laugh in horror and gratitude, knowing that most would have to try hard to be that terrible at cooking.

Season 4 was possibly one of the most horrifying displays of edible creativity seen on TV where fans witnessed contestant Aadip Desai pour a bag of M&Ms with peanuts into a skillet and mash them into an almost crepe-like form. The judges looked in fright and disbelief as he poured the M&M mixture in a pot with spaghetti and jarred marinara sauce. He goes on to explain that he's "made [himself] sick eating it" but it's not specified whether it's from pleasure or repulsion.

The maniacal mole marinara mash-up isn't well received by the judges starting with Anne Burrell throwing the burnt piece of "garlic bread" across the room like she's playing disc golf. Bobby Flay casually sampled it, but quickly spat it out and stated that he is actually the worst cook in America and semi-jokingly exclaimed that the other contestant can just go home (via Youtube). Unfortunately, Desai did not live up to the "Worst Cooks in America" name but at least mole spaghetti didn't take off as the next food trend.

Rancid banana what?

It's questionable sometimes whether "MasterChef" should have the word "master" in it from the looks of some of the show's dishes. In theory, some dishes sound amazing but fail on every level in presentation, taste, or all of the above. One of the most insulted dishes presented on "MasterChef" was a conceptually stimulating dish from Season 4 –– baked meringue with macerated strawberries and a banana puree –– that could only be described as a semi-edible dumpster fire.

Ramsay brought contestant Lynn, or "Mister Finesse," up for his dessert tasting but summoned the other judges up to look at the dish before sampling it. Judge, Graham Elliot, said "it's incredible" but obviously not in a good way as Bastianich asked if Lynn "drove over it." They looked on in horror and contemplation at what somehow looks like a congealed yet soupy melted rainbow(via Youtube).

The judges examined and poked the mystery smear as if it could possibly come to life like a mutilated alien egg. Ramsay said it looks like Lynn "slipped in cow s*** and baked it" and remarked how it tasted like "wall insulator with some strawberry or banana that your grandad left under his bed before he passed ... and the worst dish [he] had seen on a plate in four years on 'MasterChef.'" Bastianich of course didn't eat the dish, but threw the food away and gave Lynn back the plate as a "memento for [him] to take home." Ouch. 

Meatloaf teddy bear horror story

Some cooking show creations are so out there that it is hard to look away from the sheer horror. Contestant David on Season 6 of "Worst Cooks in America" thought it would be a good idea to combine his favorite childhood comfort food with a woodland animal. At least, he said, "if it don't taste good, at least it can be fun to look at" (via Youtube). David even admitted that his dog won't eat his cooking, which should be a red flag in anyone's book (via Food Network).

The teddy-looking bear appears to be something out of a Stephen King novel with abnormally irregular limbs and an uncharacteristically possessed-looking smile nestled on an open grave of mashed potatoes. Anne Burrell's face said it all with her hypnotic look of repulsion. Tyler Florence went on to say that "[it] is without a question, hands down, the worst meatloaf I've ever had in my entire life."

Even though David didn't go on to redeem himself as the best worst cook in America, his teddy bear meat sculpture lives on in cooking show infamy. Even Burrell tried her hand at recreating her own alarming meatloaf (via Facebook) and fans are using their own teddy bear creations as shock factor to get free insults from chefs like Gordon Ramsay (via Twitter).

Sometimes a laugh is all it takes

Even though insults tend to get a bad rap, not all are created equally. Some insults can be so brutally honest, you can't help but laugh uncontrollably. "Nailed It" is one of those competition shows that combines the ridiculously impossible and the hilariously unattainable. Some of the baking creations are eerily good, but most tend to be gut-wrenchingly awful yet adorably pathetic like a child's art project.

It's always sweet how Nicole Byer always starts her criticism by saying "I don't mean to laugh ..." as she prepares to nicely roast someone's baking failure. With this fantasyland cake episode from Season 1, Byer laughs uncontrollably as she describes the princess waiting to be rescued from its cake tower as "terrifying." Byer continues by joking that she didn't "think anybody's coming to rescue [the princes]" in-between chuckles at the baker's decapitated dragon (via Youtube).

It's hard not to get lost in the princess' beady eyes that could hold a deluge of creepy secrets and other-worldly suspicions. It's a toss-up whether the cake, the castle, or the hopeless eyes of the forsaken princess are the scariest, but we still love the humoring and insulting display of creativity.

GBBO's humorous yet terrifying showstopper

"Great British Bake Off" has a seamless way of delivering insults that can go over one's head in such a way that it can almost seem like a joke. Call it what you will, either cultural ignorance or clean humor, but some of GBBO's insults can be so subtle and unnoticeable that it makes them even more callous. From an unprompted eye roll to an uncomfortable chuckle, the show might be the most casually chill yet cutthroat cooking show on television.

Cake weeks are always debaucherous and full of possible flops. In the first episode of Season 11, bakers were put to the test when creating a 3D cake depicting a celebrity. The results were rocky at best with most looking like a melted wax sculpture but delicious-tasting and others vice-versa.

Some naturally were less realistic than others, like contestant Marc's David Bowie cake (via Nerds and Beyond). Despite liking the icing, the cake was overbaked and judge Prue Leith said "that's about as far away from David Bowie as you can get" in-between chuckles (via YouTube). Others like Laura's Freddie Mercury cake just got laughed at by Leith, which is almost more offensive but infectious. It was all in good humor though –– even David Bowie's son tweeted his own masterpiece jokingly poking fun at his late father's edible bust (via Twitter).

Even Great British Bake Off bakers get cocky with the judges

The "Great Stand Up To Cancer Bake Off" episodes feature celebrities with hopefully some baking expertise in a head-to-head fundraiser sprinkled with some competitive energy. Most of the time, you hope to see some expert-level bakes but get ones barely worthy of a participation trophy (hey, it's all for charity though). Comedian Lee Mack was a walking fever dream, just meandering around aimlessly hoping to wing his way into being star baker.

Mack slightly jabbed at host Noel Fielding while cooking his signature when he asked if Fielding could bake. Fielding laughed while gesturing at himself and said "look at me" to which Mack replied, "you can't tell jokes but you made a career out of that for 20 years that doesn't mean you can't bake." That should be offensive but Fielding laughs it off theatrically as a good entertainer does (via Youtube). Mack then pokes fun at the classic Paul Hollywood stare, which is intimidating enough, and says "at least Ramsay just swears at you."

Mack's signature blondies are not well received by Prue Leith as her critique that having them in a bowl of yogurt would be considered an insult since it's "a fair and positive take on a disaster." Cue the hysterical laughter. Hollywood expressed that he "[dreads] to see what [Mack's] gonna come up with] in his showstopper, but he shocked the judges with a delicious sponge cake that redeemed him and left the judges in stitches.