Many of us home cooks can only dream of a kitchen like the ones showed on cooking shows. Take for example Pioneer Woman’s huge farmhouse kitchen. Beautifully designed kitchen cabinets, a fully stocked pantry, family-sized fridge, and a fresh herb garden. But it seems as though there’s no reason to be envious. While there are some shows that are filmed in the chef’s real home, most are filmed in a studio made to look like a chef’s kitchen.

And what about all that food? On MasterChef, there can be 20 dishes made, but the judges only taste three. What happens to the rest of it? Many viewers fear that all this food is thrown away. Generally, food is donated to local charities or given to the production crew and contestants. But since the nature of cooking shows mean that food is often left at room temperature for a period of time, it’s often discarded due to food safety reasons.

As with most reality shows, it takes a long time to film the 30 minutes you see on your screen. One Chopped episode is only one hour long, but it takes the whole day to film. In fact, the host Ted Allen is on set for more than 10 hours a day. For contestants, they sometimes arrive at 5:45 AM and only leave at 8:00 PM!

If there is something you have to question, it’s the temperature of the food at the judging table. Some shows can have as many as ten contestants, which means some of the dishes are bound to be cold by the time it’s tasted by the judges. Does this mean they’re at a disadvantage because their dish is cold? Not at all. In fact, most judges on cooking shows say that they are actually used to tasting cold food and, in most cases, the dish they taste is not the one they judge. In MasterChef, a show where up to 24 contestants compete, the judges go around the benches and taste the food while it’s being made. In this way, they get a taste of the dish while it’s still fresh and hot.

There’s a reason why so many foodies dream of becoming a contestant on MasterChef. Even though it’s a stressful competition, they do have a day off each week. And on their off-day, they have access to a cooking class and a massive library of cooking books. This also comes in handy, because on MasterChef, contestants are not allowed to work off a recipe!

What’s your favorite cooking show? Tell us in the comments below!