In the 16th season premiere, chef Gordon Ramsey welcomes his 18 new recruits on the grounds of the U.S. Army training facility. Then, it's survival of the fittest when they face the Signature Dish challenge and their first dinner service, during which they cook for VIP guests Nolan Gould and Erica Ash.
The contestants race in the first annual Crepe Grand Prix challenge for a chance to win a luxurious dining experience on a yacht in Santa Barbara. Later, one team struggles right out of the gate during a dinner service featuring VIP guests Maureen DeWulf and Dash Mihok.
Tensions run high in the house as the teams face their next challenge, which is to make eight unique dishes using a selection of ostrich cuts. While the winners get to go to Big Bear for a zip-lining excursion, the losing chefs have to pluck pine nuts out of pinecones.
The contestants compete in a surf and turf protein relay for the chance to win a day of surfing at the Wavehouse in San Diego. Meanwhile, the losing team must make sausages from scratch. Later, the pressure is on during dinner service when a VIP 12-top are among the night's guests.
A shocking elimination forces both teams to regroup and chart a new course as they take on the Seven Seas Seafood Challenge, which gives the chefs 30 minutes to prepare a fish dish using a variety of fresh ingredients. Later, guitarist Joe Perry and singer Estelle are invited to the dinner service.
The remaining contestants take part in an Ingredient Crossword Challenge. Later, kid-friendly items must be incorporated into the dinner service during a family night with VIP diners, who include actresses Lauren Lapkus and Ciara Hanna.
The remaining contestants are tasked with cooking their own version of a Southern staple, which will be judged by chef Chris Hastings. Later, there's a feeling of determination to impress VIP guests J.J. Redick, Blake Lewis, Mircea Monroe and Adrienne Maloof at dinner service. However, stress levels rise and Ramsay makes a shocking decision.
A change leaves the chefs in shock as they prepare to host the International Ballroom Invitational. This special event calls for a special menu, which includes a raw bar that requires one team to break down lobster, scrub clams and oysters, and steam up crabs.
The remaining contestants participate in a blind taste test in which each team must determine the taste of pureed baby foods. Actor Josh McDermitt and TV host Jeannie Mai serve as celebrity diners.
The remaining chefs tackle sliders; three guest judges determine which team will party at the Playboy mansion; celebrity diners include model Crystal Hefner, TV producer Melissa Rivers, TV hosts Drew and Jonathan Scott and actress Ashley Greene.
The chefs pair up for a taste challenge in which the winners receive Vitamix blenders and a special trapeze lesson on the Santa Monica Pier. Later, the chefs learn that the night's dinner service will be a unique one, as they will host a private, invitation only service that honors major contributors to the charity "Stand Up to Cancer". After a few hiccups, one team must chose two people for elimination, which causes an unexpected deliberation.
In the second hour, the chefs must pair up for their challenge in which they must try and combine two countries' flavors to impress guest judge, Roy Yamaguchi, owner and executive chef of Roy's. Later during dinner service, the chefs try to impress Chef Ramsay, as well as special guest diners that include actors Kellita Smith ("Z Nation"), Jasika Nicole ("Fringe"), Patrick Renna ("The Sandlot") and Tommy Savas ("State of Affairs").
Chef Ramsay shakes things up and introduces a series of three challenges that will determine the recipients of a black jacket. For the first time, there will be no reward, no punishment and no dinner service.
The remaining chefs go head-to-head in a challenge for which Chef Ramsay provides the first three ingredients, but the chefs must race to hit a buzzer in order to get their final three.
After two chefs are eliminated, the remaining contestants must create a unique dining experience for a large group of well known chefs.
As both finalists work on their menus for the last dinner service, Chef Ramsay surprises them with a special trip to the luxurious Ken Paves Salon, where they will receive a makeover before heading to the premiere of a new musical.