As the new season of "Hell's Kitchen" begins, the latest batch of 18 chefs travel via luxury coach to a mystery location, where they're set to kick off what promises to be the most volatile competition on the series to date.
James, the "Hell's Kitchen" maître d', escorts the hopefuls to the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles. They're led to a stage where they can hear the sounds of a roaring crowd of adoring fans. As the competitors wait to meet their fans, an announcer introduces them, the applause track is turned off, and they stand in front of a theater that's completely empty except for one guest: Chef Gordon Ramsay. He greets them by saying, "Seriously, what on earth did you expect - a standing ovation, screaming fans, really?"
After getting their egos in check, the contestants are told that they have to prove that they're worthy of being called a star. Then Gordon tells them what's at stake in this competition: a $250,000 prize and the position of head chef at the prestigious BLT Steak restaurant in New York City. But first they head to "Hell's Kitchen" to prepare their signature dishes for him.
The chefs have 45 minutes to prepare their entrees. Elise, a 26-year-old line cook, starts immediately butting heads with other contestants, saying, "I am definitely not afraid to fight back." Meanwhile, some cooks such as Krupa, a private chef from Queens, New York, seem frazzled as time flies by in the kitchen.
The contestants then present their signature dishes to Chef Ramsay, and he announces that this will be their first team challenge, with the men's Blue Team group going head-to-head with the ladies' Red Team.
Dallas pantry chef Carrie presents her chicken-fried rib eye, but Chef Ramsay spits out her sugary mashed potatoes, calling them disgusting. Sous chef Will gets better reviews from Gordon, who tells him that his gnudi is delicious. Next up, Chef Ramsay gives a point to California personal chef Amanda for her eggplant and to New Jersey head chef Brendan for his salmon.
Chef de cuisine Jennifer then presents her special secret pork. Chef Ramsay commends her moist and tasty meat. But he's immediately turned off by the punch-drunk chicken presentation from Jonathan, a head cook from Memphis, Tennessee. Thanks to Jonathan's canned pineapple-ring garnish, Chef Ramsay refuses to even taste the dish, and he gives the women's team one point instead. The score is tied, two to two.
Gordon is equally unimpressed with the look of Krupa's stuffed naan with cilantro chutney, calling her dish "crappa." Junior sous chef Paul presents his eggplant involtini, which Chef Ramsay says is quite nice. The men are awarded another point, taking the lead again.
Gordon is underwhelmed by sous chef Jamie's undercooked lollipop lamb chop and saute chef Steven's scallops, which Chef Ramsay says are like "dinosaur toenails." He sends both cooks away, without points.
The next scallop dish by Pittsburgh line cook Elise pleases Gordon, but he says that the Korean BBQ beef from Chino, an executive chef from Hatboro, Pennsylvania, is overpowered by the miso. The ladies score again.
In the next pairing, Darby, Pennsylvania, line cook Monterray's sea bass is a hit, as are Kentucky sous chef Natalie's lamb chops. With a point to each team, the score remains even.
Following them, Elizabeth, a New York City line cook, makes a good impression with her quail, and the crab cake by Tommy, a line cook from Brewster, New York, is also a hit.
With the score tied at five, the final two chefs present their signature dishes. Chef Ramsay samples restaurant consultant Gina's pistachio scallops, and although he likes the taste, he points out that the tops are burned. The final dish is Jason's pork tacos. Gordon is initially underwhelmed by the concept, but he likes the taste, and the line cook from Chicago scores the winning point for the men's team.
For their victory, the men are treated to a feast at the restaurant L.A. Market, with Season 8 winner Nona. As she inspires them to fight for their lives, the women are left to clean both kitchens in preparation for the coming "Hell's Kitchen" opening.
As the second day of competition begins, the chefs assemble in the kitchen to start prep for the first service. The kitchen quickly heats up, and Jason is having trouble breathing and is taken away by ambulance. Chef Ramsay tells the competitors that Jason will not be returning to "Hell's Kitchen." Now down one man, the Blue Team members ready themselves for the arriving dinner guests.
As the service starts, both teams struggle with the timing of their dishes to the pass, frustrating Gordon. He rejects Elise's risotto. Krupa jumps in to prepare the dish, which Chef Ramsay calls delicious. In the meantime, the Blue Team starts to deliver appetizers to the hungry diners.
But when Chino burns the miso cod, Gordon pulls him out of the kitchen and makes him peel garlic. Krupa earns praise once again for cooking a perfect beef Wellington, and the Red Team begins serving entrees.
After Stephen and Tommy both unsuccessfully try their hand at the fish station, Chef Ramsay pulls them out of the kitchen too. The Blue Team is now down four men, and their fish station is all but shuttered. Then Carrie brings the Red Team to halt with her scallops. And when Elise tries to take over, Gordon sends her to sit at the Chef's Table.
Jonathan prepares perfectly cooked Wellingtons, but both Monterray and Brendan are off with their timing. With not a single entree leaving the Blue Team's kitchen, guests are walking out, and Gordon shuts down both kitchens. He declares the Blue Team the losers and sends the men off to nominate two of their own for elimination.
The men choose Steven and Monterray to go on the chopping block. Chef Ramsay adds Chino to the list of nominees and then asks all three to step forward. After each pleads his case, Gordon tells Steven to take his chef's jacket off, saying of the disastrous dinner service, "I can't go through that again."