In the series premiere, 24 terrible home cooks arrive in New York City, hoping to be selected for a 10-day culinary boot camp with chefs Beau MacMillan and Anne Burrell. Then, the field is narrowed down to 12 hopefuls and they begin competing for a $25,000 grand prize
The recruits learn five fundamental knife skills at the Arirang Hibachi Steakhouse. Then, each attempts to prepare a teppanyaki-style dish. For the Main Dish Challenge, Anne and Beau post a recipe on the blackboard, only to erase it halfway through the challenge.
The importance of flavour is emphasized when the recruits learn to make crepes. Then, Anne and Beau teach the basics of marinating and grilling.
The recruits learn how to make fresh pasta. Then they prepare a variety of hors d'oeuvres while catering a 30-person cocktail party.
The final four recruits learn to cook a complicated dessert before teaching the dish to a group of high-school football players. Then the finalists must reinvent the terrible dish they cooked for Anne and Beau on their very first day.
Season 1 comes to a close as the final two recruits prepare a three-course meal for food critics, who think they're eating dishes prepared by Anne and Beau. Then, the amateur chef who serves the best-executed meal is declared the winner.