Twelve aspiring chefs compete for the coveted title of Top Chef as they creatively whip up a storm to escape elimination.
This week the chefs honor the late, great Pulitzer-Prize winning food critic Jonathan Gold. Using Gold's last guide list, the chefs fan out all over Los Angeles to sample the unique taquerias, food trucks, mom-and-pop cafes, upscale eateries and ethnic cuisine only found in the City of Angels. Drawing inspiration from this one-in-a-lifetime culinary odyssey, the chefs create dishes to serve 200 of Jonathan Gold's friends, family, and restaurateurs that he loved at the iconic Union Station. Noted food writer and personal friend of Jonathan Gold, Ruth Reichl serves as guest judge alongside Padma, Tom and Gail.
Comedic superstars Ali Wong and Randall Park swing by the Top Chef kitchen for a Quickfire Challenge tasking the chefs to make the wackiest fried rice they can. Then, the chefs head to the famed Getty Museum to seek inspiration from one of four historical art movements to create a masterpiece on their plate. Guest Judge Ludo Lefebvre joins Tom, Padma and Gail, as well as guest diners Chefs Ray Garcia, Sara Hymanson, Sarah Kramer and Craig Thornton.
Kelly Clarkson drops into the Top Chef kitchen for a Quickfire based on her new movie, Trolls: World Tour, where the chefs are tasked with combining colorful ingredients from six different musical 'lands' to make one delicious dish. For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs are split into two teams to create a cohesive, progressive vegetarian meal for Padma, Tom, Gail and James Beard nominated guest judge Jeremy Fox. The catch is they won't know what ingredients they'll be working with until the morning of the challenge when they shop exclusively at the Santa Monica Farmers Market.
In the Quickfire, it's a true test of communication as the chefs play a game of telephone with their loved ones as they try to reproduce the dish their family member is currently eating at a nearby restaurant. Then, the chefs are tasked with creating a signature product that they will bottle, use on a dish and sell at a food festival. They may get help from their visiting loved ones, but for one chef, the help won't save them from being sent home. Celebrity Chef Nancy Silverton is the guest judge joining Tom, Padma and Gail.
Padma gets a real rise out of the chefs when she tasks them to make a Quickfire dish without any All-Purpose flour. Instead chefs must work with alternative flours from Blue Corn and Buckwheat to Coconut and Hazelnut. James Beard Award-Winning Chef Chris Bianco serves as the guest judge for the Quickfire Challenge. Then, the chefs are whisked off to the famous Walt Disney Concert Hall to meet legendary conductor Gustavo Dudamel who is about to celebrate the LA Philharmonic's 100th anniversary. The Maestro inspires the chefs to treat their flavor profiles like musical instruments, each providing a counterbalance to the other. For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs serve Dudamel and members of the LA Philharmonic at award-winning Otium restaurant along with Padma, Tom, Gail and Guest Judge, Bocuse d'Or finalist Timothy Hollingsworth.
The chefs are challenged to a taco throwdown for the taco king, actor and restaurateur Danny Trejo. For the Quickfire, the only sharp tool they can use is a machete, in honor of one of Danny's signature characters. Then, Padma informs the chefs that the only way to make it to Restaurant Wars is to survive this week's qualifying challenge. The cheftestants have to dig deep to create and pitch a restaurant concept complete with a couple of dishes to the judges -Padma, Tom and Gail, along with "Top Chef" Chicago Winner Stephanie Izard and James Beard Award winning Restaurateur Kevin Boehm. The top two concepts will be the restaurants built for the signature Restaurant Wars challenge, while the chef with the judges' least favorite concept will be eliminated.
It's Restaurant Wars and this season Padma takes all the limitations off the table as the chefs can make as much food as they want and shop wherever they choose; two chefs are given 48 hours to pick their teams and crate the restaurants.
The chefs head to the mountains outside of Los Angeles to go to a summer camp where they are challenged to an outdoor grilling Quickfire for Padma and "Top Chef" Kentucky winner Kelsey Barnard Clark.
With only six chefs remaining, the challenges get even more difficult, when pastry super-chef Sherry Yard awaits the all stars for a dreaded dessert Quickfire; chefs endure a blindfolded taste test to pick their ingredients.
Tom makes his final decision from "Last Chance Kitchen" on who should return to the competition; the chefs take off in a Quickfire with Padma and Jonathan Waxman making a two-course business class dish for an airline.
The final five travel to Italy, where the chefs must make an aperitivo for 30 locals from the town of Lucca that pairs perfectly with a Peroni beer; then, they hunt the elusive white truffle which they must use in a dish for a Tuscan food festival.
The chefs are treated to a culinary dream trip to Parma, the legendary home of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and Prosciutto di Parma ham; the chefs must feature the ingredients in two courses and serve their dishes to a table of 16 Michelin stars.
The final three all stars face off in an epic Italian showdown to cook the meal of their lives in an effort to take home the ultimate title and prize.