Eight chefs begin a grueling test to win chef and restaurateur Geoffrey Zakarian's support in opening their own restaurant. First, Geoffrey gets to know each chef through their food, asking them to make one bite that best represents their restaurant concept. One competitor is sent home based on their bite. Then Geoffrey tests the chefs' cooking ability by asking them to make a roast chicken and side dish in the style of their restaurant. The challenge is harder than it seems, and the chef who is bested by a basic chicken is eliminated.
The six remaining chefs must show Geoffrey Zakarian that they know how to make a profit by cooking and presenting their "moneymaking dish." Then they have to give a full, 360-degree presentation of their restaurant concept, introducing Geoffrey to their menus, "wow" dishes and overall vibe. The chef whose idea isn't fully baked is sent packing.
The remaining five chefs have to cook three dishes from their own menu as chosen by potential investor Geoffrey Zakarian. He's looking for a menu that's cohesive, representative of the chef's style and tastes like a winner. Using all the leftovers, the chefs then must make a special dish that would be served in their dream restaurant. Creativity is key to owning a restaurant, and the least creative aspiring restaurateur is sent home.
The final four chefs must prove their recipes are consistent when Geoffrey Zakarian attempts to cook their dishes. Are the recipes clear enough for any line cook to follow? Then Geoffrey throws a private party with local chefs and food critics -- all picky eaters with dietary restrictions -- to see if the hopeful restaurateurs can adjust their menu enough to make the entire party happy.
The final three chefs tackle the front of the house, each taking a turn running their own restaurant. But what they don't know is that Geoffrey Zakarian has filled the restaurant with actors causing havoc, and he wants to see how the chefs react on their worst day. Which aspiring restaurateur can stand the heat, and who will get out of the kitchen?
In the competition finale, Geoffrey Zakarian lets each of the final two chefs do a full restaurant takeover, setting up their restaurant with a full staff and real diners (including Geoffrey, of course). Both chefs may succeed in showing their stuff, but only one will earn Geoffrey's investment of time and energy. It's time to find out who is the next great restaurateur.