Michael Symon courtesy Food Network
Delicious meals come down to the wire when a fifth season of Dinner: Impossible (Wednesdays, 10 pm/ET, Food Network) gets under way Wednesday with new host Michael Symon, who dishes on cooking under pressure, his dream Iron Chef America competitors, and his love of all things pork. - Megan Walsh-Boyle

TVGuide.com: So what's tougher: Iron Chef America or Dinner: Impossible?
Michael Symon:
[ Laughs] They're both relatively difficult in different ways. This year I did nine battles on Iron Chef in 15 days, so that's mentally exhausting. Dinner: Impossible is mentally exhausting, but it also really beats you up physically.

TVGuide.com: You're taking over Dinner: Impossible after original host Robert Irvine's contract wasn't renewed for lying about his resume. Did you have any apprehensions?
Symon:
There's always a tremendous amount of pressure to take over a show that's highly rated and has a lot of fans, but at the end of the day I love the format of the show and thought I'd fit really well. And, I love the challenge of trying to make a successful show better.

TVGuide.com: We have to ask, have you ever been tempted to lie about your resume?
Symon:
I have no reason to. [ Laughs]

TVGuide.com: How will you make the show your own?
Symon:
I'm still going to be up against the clock, but the biggest difference is we'll put out really great food and never take a shortcut. Food will always be our priority and we'll have a lot of fun along the way. I'm not a yeller, screamer kind of guy. I get the most out of [people] by treating them right. I'm not going to work that hard and not have fun. [ Laughs]

TVGuide.com: What has been your most "impossible" mission yet?
Symon:
I would say the hardest one was our Mother's Day challenge. It ended up being for over 600 people. We were outside with a limited kitchen. My helpers were my sister, who has a high amount of energy but really can't cook, and my 65-year-old mother, who's as good a cook as anyone I've ever met in my entire life, but has never cooked for 600 people, so it created some difficult challenges.

TVGuide.com: What other challenges do you face this season?
Symon:
We did 10 episodes. The premiere is in Alcatraz, which is a huge challenge because of the transporting of food, and Alcatraz is a really eerie, creepy kind of place. Later, we do a rodeo outside of Denver, a block party in Philly, so really a huge range of different things - no two were really the same. We filmed one in [my hometown] Cleveland and I had to do a Seder dinner for the Jewish holidays.

TVGuide.com: Is there a mission that you would absolutely refuse to take on?
Symon:
If I had to prepare manufactured food, I would refuse that, but I don't think [executive producer] Marc Summers would put me in that position.

TVGuide.com: Who would you love to go up against on Iron Chef America?
Symon:
God, that's a tough one. [Fellow] Iron Chef Mario [Batali], because I think we cook in a very similar vein. I like going against the toughest guys possible, so Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud or Eric Ripert - chefs who are absolutely legendary in our era.

TVGuide.com: Your favorite ingredient?
Symon:
The hog is a magical animal - it brings us bacon, ham, pork chops and ribs, what more can you ask for? [ Laughs]

TVGuide.com: You helped design some very cool T-shirts that express a love for all things meat - any worries that celebrity vegan Pam Anderson might go after you?
Symon:
[ Laughs] No, I think she has enough problems in her own life to be worrying about my meat T-shirts. Hey, I have friends that are vegetarians, too!

TVGuide.com: Have you ever had to cook an all-vegetarian meal?
Symon:
You know what, I do one on Dinner: Impossible this season, so that should be some interesting television [ Laughs].

TVGuide.com: What do you do when you aren't cooking?
Symon:
I have a couple Harleys, so I like to unwind on those and I do enjoy golfing. Then just hanging out with my wife and my three dogs and my stepson Kyle.

TVGuide.com: Sounds like you're loving life right now.
Symon:
Always. Always, always, always.