'Iron Chef' Secrets Revealed

Some of the rivalries are pretty intense. Once, Bobby Flay leaped triumphantly onto his cutting board at the end of a battle with Masaharu Morimoto (before Flay became an iron chef). Afterward, Morimoto said Flay was not a chef because he had disregarded the cleanliness of his cutting board.

The show is an hour long and the cameras never stop rolling -- not even when the Kitchen Stadium chefs have an accident.

"This season there's been a fair amount of blood. People have been cutting themselves, lopping off things," said Brown, who explained that the chefs are more likely to injure themselves because sous chefs tend to handle knives better.

"You know, [the chefs] become big on TV and they become sloppy with knife skills," Brown added. "It's like, 'Oops! I've cut the dickens out of myself.' You know, blood all over. ... Sous chefs are laughing."

'This Changes Careers'

The schedule can be grueling with back-to-back battles. The Food Network shoots 26 episodes in just three weeks.

Chef Michael Symon, the newest Iron Chef, said recently he was filming his ninth one in two and a half weeks.

"It is similar to what restaurants do every day of our lives … much quicker, but similar," he said. "But you've got all this smoke being brewed in here. How is it cooking on a stage that looks like it's made for Bon Jovi? I think it makes it great fun. It's theater, and we're here to put on a great show."

It's a show that turns chefs into stars. Symon, Flay, Mario Batali, Morimoto and Cora are household names and stars in the industry.

"You can come in from a restaurant in wherever, you know, Nebraska or something," Brown said. "This is life-altering. This changes careers. As for the iron chefs, they have got to stay on top, you know. They lose every now and then, but when their season starts looking bad, they worry about being traded. I mean, it is like being on a professional team."

Judges vs. Chefs

And ultimately, it is a panel of judges that decides their fate. There have been 106 judges over the years ... and every one of them has an opinion.

One of the regulars is Andrew Knowlton, a restaurant editor for Bon Appetit magazine.

"I feel like [the chefs] really want honesty, and I owe it to them," Knowlton said. "I mean, this is what they're here for. It's part of the gig.

But sometimes, Cora said, it's easy to feel frustrated with the judges.

"You have to stand there," she said. "You have to grin and bear it. There are times when you want to put a chokehold on someone but, you know, you just stand there and take in their feedback and appreciation. Even if you don't agree, you have to be professional about it.

"You can hit them with a pan later," she joked.

Cora says the best judges come from the culinary world, because those who don't are out of their element.

"It's like me trying to judge an Olympic swimming event," she said. "You know, I'd be going 'Woo hoo, go, girl! Those are some nice moves! Hook me up with that bathing suit!' So it's really important that we have culinary people on [the show]."

Symon said his dream judges would be his mom, dad and grandfather.

"I've never cooked a bad meal for them!" he said.

The judges have their own frustrations, as well. Knowlton said sometimes he sees the chefs cooking food he'd rather not taste.

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