Like all great chefs, Neelix is largely under-appreciated by his audience,
He's too experimental.
NEELIX: Anthraxic citrus peel, orange juice with just a hint of
papalla seed extract. An experimental blend.
TUVOK: The success rate of your culinary experiments has not been high
His food is too flavourful because he uses fresh, not replicated ingredients.
WILDMAN: I thought you didn't use replicated vegetables when you're cooking. Always fresh, organic, from the airponic bay.
NEELIX: Well, the yields have been a little low lately. Normally, I would never dream of using synthesised veggies.
Many of the crew aren't used to natural food, having grown up with (bland) replicated food all their lives.
NEELIX: You're welcome. After all, if you want the crew to begin to accept natural food alternatives instead of futher depleting our
energy reserves, you need to encourage them by your own choices, don't
JANEWAY: Fine. Give me your even-better-than-coffee substitute.
He doesn't like following recipes
NEELIX: It is zesty, isn't it. I tried following the recipe in the computer's databank but it seemed so bland, so I took the liberty
of spicing it up a bit. Call it plomeek soup a la Neelix.
TUVOK: I must point out that if you take the liberty of changing a time-honoured recipe you are hardly presenting a taste of home.
He's feels that it's his duty to teach the crew to enjoy a "broader palette" of flavours
NEELIX: What's wrong?
SEVEN: They are pungent.
NEELIX: That's the whole idea. I've been adding Talaxian spices to broaden your palette.
SEVEN: My palette is sufficiently broad.
Some of the crew clearly like his cooking enough to want to learn from him
CHAKOTAY: The ship's out of danger, thanks to you. You've earned a break. Why don't you join me in the mess hall. Neelix is going to
give a cooking lesson. Talaxian tenderloin in ten minutes.
SEVEN: I'm no longer interested in cooking.
And after he's gone, some of the crew grudgingly admit that his cooking was excellent
CHAKOTAY: Crewman Chell's asked about taking over in the mess hall full time.
JANEWAY: Neelix left some pretty big pots and pans to fill. Does Mister Chell feel he's up to the challenge?
The non-canon, but very amusing Star Trek Cookbook by Ethan Phillips (the actor who played Neelix) offers these Top Ten Reasons the Crew Hates Neelix's Cooking
10: Two words: Kazon saliva.
9: Kidney is not a breakfast food.
8: A little confused by the soup fork.
7: Can't take any more "cream of yesterday"
6: Swill du Jour.
5: Square meals means diced carrots.
4: Tuesday is fungus night!
3: The fruitcake leaks.
2: Pleeka rind.
1: Jelly à la Neelix.