Ingenuity 10 of the country's best chefs arrive in Los Angeles to compete for the chance to join the most elite culinary society: the Iron Chefs. Host Alton Brown greets them with a test of ingenuity, the first of seven tests each focused on an important Iron Chef attribute. With bread as the Secret Ingredient Challenge, the chefs must create sandwiches that represent their personalities. Next, the threat of elimination looms in the Chairman's Challenge as the chefs find themselves cooking on a beach each with the one ingredient they would want to have if stranded on a desert island. The competition heats up, and the judges send the first contender home.
Innovation The competition escalates among the remaining nine chefs when host Alton Brown presents a challenge to test their innovation. The contenders arrive at a coffee shop for the Secret Ingredient Challenge where they must create two innovative dishes using a duo of American breakfast favorites: coffee and doughnuts. In the Chairman's Challenge, the chefs have one grueling hour to innovate classic diner fare like meatloaf and corned beef hash to Iron Chef-quality cuisine. The finalists frantically cook up their improved diner dishes, and another chef leaves at the end of the challenge.
Resourcefulness An Iron Chef must be able to think on their feet, so the eight remaining chefs face a true test of resourcefulness. For the Secret Ingredient Challenge, the chefs make an imaginative snack from pickles. The competitors then bring their small bites on a fishing field trip where they all reel something in - including a shark! Back in the kitchen, for the Chairman's Challenge, they make two dishes using the fish they caught. The finalists attempt to conquer the challenge and win over the judges, but one chef doesn't make the cut.
Transformation The remaining seven chefs undertake a test of transformation. In the Secret Ingredient Challenge, the chefs transform traditional American condiments and sauces like ketchup, ranch dressing, and mayonnaise into unique recipes. Next, the competitors get sent to the San Diego County Fair where they must gather ingredients from the concession stands in a mad dash to transform their fair food into Iron Chef-worthy dishes for the Chairman's Challenge. During the difficult battle, the chefs prepare their food on "The Outlaw Grill," the world's largest grill, but one of the chefs can't take the heat and gets eliminated.
Respect In this "all-American" episode, the six remaining competitors face the test of respect. For the Secret Ingredient Challenge, the kitchen doors open to reveal a Humvee packed with thousands of pounds of potatoes. Guest expert and judge Lt. Col. Barnes of the U.S. Army explains the challenge: showing 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 must show respect for the United States by cooking four dishes representing the four main regions on the map: North, South, East, and West. Before elimination, Alton Brown reveals that the five surviving chefs will travel to Las Vegas. One chef gets eliminated while the rest hop on the plane to Sin City.
Inspiration 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.
Seduction 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 Charlotte Voisey, a renowned mixologist. 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.
Honor 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.