Guy welcomes the four competing chefs. The first challenge will be to cook spaghetti and meatballs. Sounds simple or so the contestants think. The chefs will have 30 minutes to shop and cook. Once they're out racing in the aisles, Guy informs them that pasta and ground beef are out of stock, so they will have to make due with substitutions.
Tom, an investment banker turned chef, has been cooking for only three years. Even without formal culinary training, he manages to come up with some clever solutions using ramen noodles to replace the spaghetti, and precooked chicken sausage and duck confit to turn into gourmet meatballs. Guy is impressed that Tom will be garnishing the dish with fried chicken skin.
Stanley, a sous chef, decides to use Filipino noodles even though he's never cooked with them before. He also picks up Italian sausage, which he squeezes out of the casing to make meatballs; he throws them into the oven to bake. He garnishes with raw cherry tomatoes, which he hopes adds some color.
Karen, a private chef and single mom, decides to do a nod to her Jewish heritage by making a matzo ball soup version of spaghetti and meatballs, replacing the matzo balls with chicken meatballs and adding egg noodles to the broth. Unfortunately her noodles don't make it into the bowl before the clock runs out.
Nia, a baker, a bride-to-be and a proud Italian, picks up wonton wrappers, ground pork and Italian sausage as her substitutions. She also picks up a jar of tomato sauce; Nina says if her nonna could see her using it, she'd roll in her grave. Nia's idea is to make ravioli, but she has trouble getting her water to boil.
The judges thought Tom's dish was beautiful, but Melissa couldn't get past the mushy texture of the meatballs. Nia's plating suffered, and her wonton wrappers were too soft. Troy thought Stanley's sauce was lacking in flavor, and Melissa called his raw tomatoes a crime. Karen's use of chicken base made her broth too salty, and she was missing the noodles, which resulted in her checking out of the game early.
Both Stanley and Tom have no problem in facing the challenge. Stanley makes a pea soup thickened with tofu and topped with sauteed pork, but the judges would have rather seen chops. Tom makes chicken and dumplings, which the judges absolutely love. But as Melissa pointed out, Nia's decision to use yellow squash, a $3 item, wasn't a smart one because her dish suffered. She ultimately checks out.
Stanley and Tom go onto the final challenge, the Frozen Food Feud, which has them shopping from only the frozen aisle. They will have 25 minutes to shop and cook their dish. As they're out shopping, Guy announces that he'll let them use two items from the produce sections. Tom decides to go the savory route, but Stanley takes a risk and decides to make dessert.
Tom makes a classic Louisiana maque choux using frozen corn, frozen shrimp and a frozen Southwestern sauce that turns out to be way too salty, but he cuts it with vanilla ice cream. Lorena felt the dish transported her to New Orleans. Stanley's dessert, on the other hand, didn't pay off. The cheesecake and strawberry ice cream pie he made was fine, but Troy found the Popsicle sauce bitter. Stanley ends up checking out.
Tom finds eight out of 10 items on the list. He wasn't able to get the almond paste in time. And he ran right past the canned olives at the last second, but there wasn't enough time for him to grab the item. He walks away with $16,000 in prize money and the confidence that his career change is paying off in more ways than one.