Another question I wanted to address is that of timing: how long each episode takes to shoot, and what happens that does not make the final cut. The short answer is: LOTS and LOTS. The longer answer: Each episode usually takes about two full days -- one day for the Quickfire and one for the Elimination Challenge. Taping the Quickfire Challenge usually takes a few hours. The Elimination Challenge runs longer and comprises cooking (sometimes over a period of several hours) serving (often the length of a multi-course dinner party), deliberating, questioning, and finally judging and dismissal. Plus, there's the setting and resetting the eight or so cameras and sound crews, transporting the cast and crew to and from each location, etc.
So you can imagine how, if we plan the Challenge to take place at dinner time, shooting can often go well into the early morning, based on everything we must do afterward. Our producers always try to avoid this -- since we're shooting in Florida, you would think they could slip us a few Early Bird Specials! -- but sometimes it just can't be helped. We usually debate our decisions for at least three hours, and what you see is boiled down to only a few minutes. As far as editing is concerned, at times I certainly am shocked when I see the final episode.
The magic of television makes our decisions look swift and easy, when in fact they are, more times than not, prolonged and difficult. I guess that is where our judging ends and the work of those who judge us begins.