Sixteen of the worst cooks in America enter boot camp with dreams of putting their kitchen nightmares behind them. Food brainiac Alton Brown and Chef Anne Burrell want to see what they're dealing with, so they ask the recruits to make a baseline dish, and the results are truly disastrous. After being sorted into teams, the recruits try to make their chef's chicken soup and sandwich dish, and the recruits with the worst dishes are sent home.
The recruits enter boot camp and find out that the theme is indulgence. Their first lesson is that salads can be indulgent, too, and the recruits play a game where salad elements are tossed into a bowl on their teammate's head. Alton Brown and Anne Burrell teach the recruits how to make fresh mozzarella for a salad, and for the main dish challenge, the recruits re-create their chef's craveable dish. The recruits who indulge their worst tendencies in the kitchen will be sent home.
The recruits enter boot camp and see it transformed for a Chinese New Year celebration. First, they play a game where fortune cookie clues lead them to ingredients, and they learn to make fried rice. For the main dish challenge, Anne Burrell and Alton Brown mentor the recruits as they make dumplings, and while some dumplings are great, others are filled with disappointment.
The recruits enter the world of culinary sophistication, starting with a game where they have to taste and identify different crepe fillings. Then Anne Burrell and Alton Brown show them how to make their own crepes. For the main dish challenge, the recruits create a duck dish, and the recruits who "quack" under the pressure will be going home.
It's game day, and the teams of recruits face off as they make game day dishes in order to move down the field to the end zone. Then they re-create burgers made by Alton Brown and Anne Burrell. For the main dish challenge, the recruits make Southern tailgating staples, and those who fail to make tasty game day fare get cut from the team.
The recruits learn how to combine unlikely ingredients and kick things off with a game where they must punch their way to success. Then Alton Brown and Anne Burrell challenge the recruits to make a flatbread including an unusual pairing, and for the main dish challenge, they must make a dish pairing fruit and meat. It's a sweet victory for the recruits with the best dishes, but for those with the worst dishes, it's sour grapes and a ticket home.
It's a sweet week in boot camp, with the recruits playing a culinary version of Candyland in which they must identify sweet treats using all their senses. In the skill drill challenge, the recruits make napoleons. For the main dish challenge, Alton Brown and Anne Burrell mentor the recruits as they make a citrus tart with a meringue, but whoever fails to whip their dish into shape goes home.
The recruits enter the world of clandestine cuisine and play a game where they answer seafood trivia in order to reveal a picture puzzle. Then Alton Brown and Anne Burrell teach them how to make empanadas for their skill drill challenge. In the main dish challenge, the recruits make shellfish dishes, but those with unsuccessful dishes see victory slip through their claws.
In the penultimate skill drill challenge, the recruits play remote-control chef and instruct Alton Brown and Anne Burrell in how to make a dish they cannot see or taste. For the main dish challenge, the recruits have to make a steak dish. The stakes are high, and only the recruits with the two best dishes make it to the finale.
The final two recruits get private cooking lessons from Alton Brown and Anne Burrell and learn to make a dish of their choosing. Then Alton and Anne teach their recruits how to make a three-course, restaurant-quality meal. For the main dish challenge, the two finalists put all their new culinary skills to the test in order to impress judges Kelly Choi, Brian Mazza and Jet Tila, who do a blind taste test and determine the winner of the $25,000 prize.