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.
In this episode, the remaining 7 chefs undertake the Chairman’s charge of TRANSFORMATION. In the Secret Ingredient challenge, the secret ingredients are American condiments and sauces like ketchup, ranch dressing and mayonnaise. The chefs have 30 minutes to transform these condiments into a dish of their choosing. The Chairman ups the ante by sending the chefs to the San Diego County Fair where they must gather ingredients from the concession stands in a mad dash and transform fair food (1 fried item, 1 grilled item, 1 item on a stick) into Iron Chef level dishes in 60 minutes. Their cook station: the world’s largest grill “The Outlaw Grill” weighing 27 tons and covering nearly 100 feet of turf this massive piece of equipment can cook 1,000 sausages at once. At one point during this difficult battle, the grill becomes a FIERY INFERNO that torches all the food on it.
And now there are 6 chefs remaining. In this “all-American” episode, the Chairman’s charge is RESPECT. Today’s secret ingredient challenge is to show respect for the potato (the peeling of which was formerly military punishment) by creating a potato dish in 45 minutes. In the Chairman’s Challenge, the chefs are asked to show respect for America by cooking 4 dishes that represent the 4 main regions on the map of the US – north, south, east and west.
Host Alton Brown and the Chairman welcome the remaining five chefs to Las Vegas on the CityCenter promenade and present them with a test of inspiration. World-champion pastry chef Jean-Phlippe Maury meets the contestants in a pastry kitchen with his dessert showpiece collection and reveals chocolate as their secret ingredient. The contenders must then create a wedding-worthy chocolate dessert. For the Chairman's Challenge, the chefs prepare a buffet inspired by the modern Las Vegas surroundings in just three hours, with the threat of a double elimination adding to the pressure.
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.
After a season packed with grueling challenges, only two chefs remain to battle it out for the ultimate culinary title of Iron Chef. The challengers head to New York for a Thanksgiving-themed showdown in legendary Kitchen Stadium, where they face a true Iron Chef challenge: prepare five creative and delicious dishes in 60 minutes using the always-feared Secret Ingredient. In addition to the season's three judges, the finalists also try to impress special guest judges, Iron Chefs Bobby Flay and Masaharu Morimoto. In the end, only one chef will reign supreme to earn the title of The Next Iron Chef.