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 the Secret Ingredient Challenge, the seven remaining chefs must transform classic American condiments into a dish of their choosing. Then the chefs are sent to the San Diego Country Fair where they gather ingredients from concession stands to transform fair food into Iron Chef-level dishes, and if that wasn't challenge enough, they're cooking on the world's largest grill!
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.
Alton and the Chairman welcome the remaining 5 chefs to Las Vegas where the Chairman's charge is INSPIRATION. The Secret Ingredient is revealed to be chocolate. The chefs have 2 hours to create a "wedding worthy" chocolate dessert. The Chairman's Challenge is to create a modern Las Vegas buffet inspired by the beautiful modern Las Vegas surroundings in 3 hours - and it's a double elimination. It's highly chaotic as the chefs attack the enormous challenge in a foreign kitchen with a double elimination hanging over their heads.
The Chairman's charge is seduction, because an Iron Chef must seduce the taste buds. In the Secret Ingredient Challenge, the chefs must create a seductive cocktail and snack in 30 minutes. For the Chairman's Challenge, the chefs must create the most luxurious Iron Chef meal ever created.
In a test of HONOR, the Thanksgiving-themed final episode is a knife-to-knife battle between the remaining two chefs to win the title of NEXT IRON CHEF. Special judges include Bobby Flay and Morimoto along with regular panel of Simon Majumdar, Donatella Arapaia and Michael Symon.