A new batch of 16 excited aspiring chefs arrives at "Hell's Kitchen" only to find the doors are locked. Instead of entering the restaurant, they are greeted outside by James, a new maître d' who is replacing Jean-Phillipe. James takes the blindfolded contestants to meet Chef Gordon Ramsay, who is waiting for them at the multimillion-dollar restaurant LA Market. Chef Ramsay explains that one of 16 contestants will become the restaurant's new head chef with a salary of $250,000.
After getting a sense of the stakes, they head back to "Hell's Kitchen," where the contestants are divided into two teams: men vs. women. They have 45 minutes to prepare their signature dishes for Chef Ramsay in hopes of making a good first impression.
The first two chefs to present their signature dishes are Emily and Russell. Chef Ramsay is impressed with Emily's duck breast, and although Russell's calamari is undercooked, he says that "the delivery hit the mark." He awards a point to both teams.
Next up is Nona's fried chicken with asparagus against Vinny's herb poached halibut. Nona's dish becomes the first of the season to be spit out, while Vinny's oily halibut surprises with its nicely seasoned flavor. The point goes to the men.
Before the next set is judged, Chef Ramsay is distracted by Sabrina, who is yawning in line while awaiting her turn. He warns her that if she's tired she can leave the kitchen right now. She declines to leave but takes a seat for the rest of the judging.
After spitting out Antonia's Mardi Gras gumbo and calling it inedible, Chef Ramsay passes the plate around, demanding that everyone taste the repulsive dish. Curtis fairs only slightly better with his lemon pepper chicken. Neither team gets a point this round.
Next Jillian's stuffed chicken beats out Rob's undercooked rack of lamb. The ladies earn another point. The next two rounds end with no points earned from Gail, Trev, Lisa, or Louis. Then Boris beats out Melissa to put the men in the lead, two to three.
The final pairing pits Raj against Sabrina, who needs to impress Chef Ramsay to make up for the yawning episode. Her grilled fish is cooked perfectly, while the presentation of Raj's seafood pancake leaves Chef Ramsay overwhelmed. The women get the point to tie the final score.
Chef Ramsay chooses Antonia's gumbo as the worst dish and the tiebreaker that seals the fate of the women's losing team. While they are sent to the kitchen to clean as punishment, the men retire to the patio to enjoy their reward of Champagne, caviar, and massages.
After a short night's sleep, it's time for the grand re-opening of "Hell's Kitchen." But Antonia is feeling ill. Medics are called after she is found passed out from a migraine, and an ambulance takes her to the hospital.
Chef Ramsay announces the medical problem to the remaining chefs, but he urges them to focus on cooking. Then James opens the doors, and service begins.
As an inaugural night special, each dinner guest selects from three mini pizzas to start the meal, with Emily and Raj taking orders for the special treats - a role Raj struggles with.
With Boris and Melissa on their respective pizza stations, and Jillian delivering a nicely cooked pasta appetizer, it seems that the teams are off to a good start. That comes to a quick halt when Trev tries to pass off an overly dressed salad.
When Chef Ramsay reprimands Melissa for the raw pizzas she is trying to serve, Boris begins to mimic him. He is taken to task for the impersonation and gets a very loud and profane warning that the next time he will be removed from the kitchen.
Back in the Red Kitchen, the very slow and deliberate Lisa is holding up the line by cooking her scallops in a pan that is not hot enough. On the men's side, Trev is still struggling with appetizers, causing Chef Ramsay to break his first plate of the season, hurling a salad on the Blue Kitchen floor.
One hour and 30 minutes into service, the Blue Team finally sends out its first appetizers.
The Red Kitchen is almost ready to deliver the first set of entrees. However, Sabrina decides to bring her beef and lamb to the window even though her team's halibut still needs more time, causing another outburst from Chef Ramsay.
Meanwhile in the Blue Kitchen, Raj is struggling to help Boris roll out the pizza dough, slowing the Blue Team down even further.
Two hours into service and no entrees in sight, guests are beginning to walk out. Chef Ramsay shuts down the kitchens. Declaring no winning team, he instructs them to go back to the dorms and elect two nominees from each side for elimination.
When they return to the dining room, Chef Ramsay announces that Antonia will not be coming back to the show, but that one more chef will still be eliminated.
The Blue Team nominates Raj for being "delusional" and Trevor for holding up the apps with the salad issues. The women nominate Lisa, based on the poor dinner service on the fish station, and Sabrina for her lack of teamwork.
Chef Ramsay decides that of the four, Lisa should be the one to go, saying she is in over her head. He then leaves both teams with a strongly worded warning: "Get serious or get out."