The last time the Chairman brought NIC competitors to a diner, he asked them to elevate American comfort food classics to Kitchen Stadium fare. This time, the transformation will take on a global accent. The chefs, competing in groups of three, must create an innovative and Iron Chef worthy take on humble international classics.
The chefs arrive in Las Vegas for the challenge of fusion. As in many a past classic NIC challenges, the chefs are asked to bring together and fuse unusual ingredients into something new and Iron Chef worthy. In this challenge, odd ingredients are randomly paired and the chefs must prove that opposites do attract ... even in the kitchen.
Ten great chefs arrive on "redemption beach" to find that they must cook with the ingredient that sent them packing from previous Next Iron Chef competitions. The chefs must re-write their unpleasant histories with these ingredients and get a jumpstart on the road to redemption. Who will fail to redeem themselves and go down in flames?
The chefs arrive at the Original Farmers Market in Los Angeles, where renowned photographer, Todd Selby, captures each chef's unique personality in a single snapshot. The Chefs return to the kitchen and must use these photos as inspiration for putting one of their opponents' personalities on a plate, in just one simple, tasty and delightful bite.
The six remaining chefs arrive at an airplane hangar to discover an ingredient auction. In this auction, the currency to win is the chef's cooking time. These aren't just any ingredients, the Chairman has given the chefs ingredients so large; they're transported in freight trucks. Can each chef risk their cooking-time to make their bids, and still have enough time left to cook these giant ingredients?
Host Alton Brown explains that Innovation is one of the most important traits of an Iron Chef and both challenges in this episode must embody that trait. First, the chefs disperse to four of the best Asian eateries in Los Angeles where they quickly taste and then attempt to recreate the house specialty from each restaurant. The chefs are armed only with their discerning palates to figure out how the dish is made. Next, the chefs are tasked with innovating and creating a new dish that is a hybrid of Asian flavors and American culinary sensibilities. The next chef is eliminated.
An Iron Chef must adapt to a secret ingredient that is revealed just moments before cooking. For their next test, host Alton Brown asks the remaining seven chefs endure a tough test of Adaptability. The chefs have 90 minutes to prepare a savory and sweet duo of Mexican-inspired dishes and a creative beverage that successfully utilizes a secret ingredient flown in from Mexico on American Airlines. At the iconic Grand Central Market, the chefs shop for additional indigenous ingredients to effectively capture the heart and soul of Mexican cooking. They are judged on how well they adapt the secret ingredient to their culinary creations. One chef is eliminated.
The final three chefs undergo a test of Integrity, and how they can honor both personal integrity and integrity of ingredients. At the most famous fish market in the world, Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market, the chefs race to gather ingredients to prepare their version of the most revered and traditional Japanese meal known as kaiseki. This kaiseki meal is filtered through each chef’s unique culinary personality. This traditional Japanese cooking style consists of an elaborately choreographed tasting menu with extreme attention focused on the beauty of each plate and the seasonality of the ingredients. One chef is eliminated, and the last two standing prepare for the final battle in Kitchen Stadium.
The remaining two chefs walk into the hallowed halls of Kitchen Stadium to complete their final test: Imagination. With the Chairman looking on and host Alton Brown (Iron Chef America) commentating from the side, the two finalists compete in a head-to-head battle. Using everything they have learned, they must take the secret ingredient and create a five course meal that reflects the melting pot that is the American culinary experience. One of the chefs will then be selected as the winner and become the new Iron Chef!
The theme this season is “American Cuisine” as 10 esteemed Chefs arrive in Los Angeles ready to prove to the Chairman they have what it takes to become The Next Iron Chef. The Chairman’s charge for this episode is ingenuity and for the Secret Ingredient Challenge, the secret ingredient is bread. The chefs must make a sandwich that represents their personality in 30 minutes. Ingenuity is vital in the Chairman’s Challenge, because the threat of elimination looms as the chefs find themselves on a beach cooking with the one ingredient they said they would want if stranded on a desert island.
After seeing their first fellow chef sent home, the competition among the remaining 9 chefs escalates. In this episode, the Chairman’s charge is INNOVATION and for the Secret Ingredient Challenge, the chefs arrive at a coffee shop where they learn the secret ingredient is COFFEE AND DONUTS. The chefs must create two dishes featuring coffee and donuts in 30 mins. The cooking is fast and furious as the chefs struggle to innovate these American breakfast favorites. The Chairman’s Challenge, builds upon the coffee shop theme by demanding that the chefs INNOVATE classic diner foods like meatloaf, hamburgers and corned beef hash to Iron Chef level in 60 minutes.
In this episode, the remaining 8 chefs grapple with the Chairman’s charge of RESOURCEFULNESS. For the Secret Ingredient Challenge, the secret ingredient is all kinds of pickles. The chefs have 30 minutes to be resourceful in turning pickles into a snack for a field trip. The reason the chefs made portable pickle snacks is that they are going on a fishing field trip. Back in the kitchen with their catch, the Chairman’s Challenge is to cook two fish dishes in 60 minutes using the fish they so resourcefully caught. They can also use the bait from the boat – fresh sardines.
Stress levels skyrocket as the remaining chefs face the test of seduction. In the Secret Ingredient Challenge, the competitors find themselves at the bar inside Jean-Georges Steakhouse at the Aria Hotel, where they have 30 minutes to create a cocktail and snack using liquor that seduces the judges' taste buds, including guest judge and renowned mixologist Charlotte Voisey. Next, the chefs meet host Alton Brown in a posh Sky Villa on Aria Hotel's 59th floor for the Chairman's Challenge. They have only 90 minutes to create an elaborate three-dish meal using luxurious ingredients gathered from restaurants in the hotel. Two chefs leave in an intense double elimination, and the last two standing prepare for the final battle in Kitchen Stadium.