Michael Symon courtesy Food Network 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?
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?
I have no reason to. [ Laughs]

TVGuide.com: How will you make the show your own?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
[ 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?
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?
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.
Always. Always, always, always.