Twelve hopefuls arrive in Los Angeles in the Season 11 premiere, where they are instructed to produce a 30-second introductory video and prepare their signature dish, which will be served at a food festival, attended by Food Network fans.
Melissa d'Arabian judges the hopefuls on their ability to create an inspiring dish, using only ingredients and leftovers found in an average family's refrigerator. Later, they must create a savory recipe, inspired by the world of desserts.
The finalists swap favorite ingredients in the Mentor Challenge; and later, work in pairs to create dishes that blend their culinary styles for first-time daters and guest judges Anne Burrell and Joachim Splichal.
Pizzas with "kicked up" flavors are created to impress guest judge Duff Goldman, plus the winner will inspire an upcoming item on a Cici's menu. Later, the finalists are randomly assigned dish requirements.
The finalists work in pairs for a challenge that finds them operating their own food trucks and creating a social media promo video to entice people to try their dishes. Richard Blais is the guest judge.
The finalists are tasked with doing a video presentation, showcasing a dish that can easily be recreated by a home cook in a short amount of time; and later, Damaris Phillips directs them, as they express their culinary point of view with a holiday recipe.
The winner of Food Network Star: Star Salvation (2015) rejoins the competition; and the four remaining contestants are presented with the challenge of cooking the single best dish of their life, with help from a familiar sous chef, Rachael Ray, who directs the film pilots.