That's exactly what happened. Working in a strange kitchen with the clock ticking away, Flay had trouble getting the stove to work right, and he cut himself so deeply he had to wrap a towel around his hand to stop the bleeding. It was a huge mess and Flay lost decisively.

But you know what? "I demanded a rematch," says Flay, a self-confessed sports fanatic. He studied where he'd gone off-kilter and looked for ways to maximize those 60 short minutes.

In an encore face-off in Tokyo, Flay trounced Morimoto - but to Flay that is not the point. "I don't think I've ever gotten more attention from anything else I've done. Time magazine wrote this up! Everybody covered it." Bottom-line business lessons? "Take risks and you'll get the payoffs. Learn from your mistakes until you succeed. It's that simple."

A restaurant is no different from many other businesses. Minimum wage employees - busboys, dishwashers - play big roles in determining a customer's satisfaction. A lipstick smear on a coffee cup can be enough to ruin a $100 meal. Ditto for some dirt left on a lettuce leaf.

That's no secret to Cat Cora, executive chef/partner at Postino in Lafayette, California, food columnist, and a co-host on Food Network's "Melting Pot, The Mediterranean Kitchen." She keeps her crew motivated this way: "Show them respect. Let them know you care about them, and they will care about you and your customers."