The first day at All-Star Academy begins as nine home cooks enter the kitchen and meet their mentors: Alex Guarnaschelli, Robert Irvine, Curtis Stone and Andrew Zimmern. The cooks are put to the test preparing a dish using the contents of a lunch box, which the mentors taste and rank in order. While the lowest-ranked cook is eliminated, the remaining eight choose their mentors. Then, the mentors must cook to impress guest judge Carla Hall and win a Save Card, which they can use later to keep one of their cooks from elimination.
The home cooks enter to meet their new guest professors, Debi Mazar and Aaron Sanchez. The subject is geography, and for their group test, they must compete in a tag team challenge cooking dishes that combine the styles of where they are from. The two teams with the least successful dishes then compete in an elimination test using ingredients from the most popular cuisines in the world: Thai, Italian or Mexican.
Duff Goldman serves as guest professor for a set of art-inspired challenges. First, the mentors face off in two battles featuring desserts in different colors. The teams with the least successful dishes then compete making a structural dessert that features chocolate and incorporates a circle, a square and a triangle on the plate.
The Kitchen's Katie Lee and Jeff Mauro join the Academy as guest professors, where the subject is math and the group test is a numbers game: they'll be split in two groups of three to create an appetizer trio featuring one main ingredient! The trio sent to the elimination test must create a dish using only seven ingredients from the pantry, plus a surprise ingredient from the opposing team's mentor.
Scott Conant and Geoffrey Zakarian serve as guest professors for snack time, and they mix things up by having the mentors cook a gourmet dish featuring a popular snack food. The winning mentor gets a big prize: to bring back any cook that has been eliminated and add them to their team. After the eliminated cook returns, all five cooks try to avoid elimination as they create a gourmet dish using pretzels.
Guest professor Adam Richman joins the Academy to test the cooks on science, so first they must dissect iconic dishes and use those ingredients in a new way. Then, Adam makes the mentors switch teams to test how well they can train students. Whoever mentors the cook with the winning dish also gets to save one of their own team members, and the remaining cooks face off creating dishes featuring the four elements -- earth, air, fire and water.
Professor Richard Blais and Professor Haylie Duff test the cooks in the subject of literature by putting them through three rounds of competition, and the cook that wins each round automatically advances to the finale. First, dishes inspired by a genre of literature; then, dishes with assigned nouns, adjectives and verbs; and finally, a pass or fail round, where the remaining cooks must make dishes featuring ingredients starting with a "p" or an "f."
The eliminated mentor returns to serve as the final guest professor, testing the cooks on their history with food. In the first round, the mentors must make an updated version of meatloaf to win an advantage for their cooks in the next round. Then, the home cooks revisit their first challenge cooking with lunch box ingredients, and in the final round, the two remaining cooks must create the best dish of their lives to win the $50,000 prize!