Bobby Flay attempts to shut down rumors of Food Network friction after 'Iron Chef' drama leaks

Bobby Flay cooked up some controversy while filming "Iron Chef Showdown" earlier this year -- but it's unclear whether or not he intentionally burned Food Network.

A tense scene unfolded on set this summer, according to a Wednesday Vanity Fair story that described "stunned silence" as Flay pulled an on-camera stunt. The longtime Food Network personality was in the middle of a timed battle when he tore off his apron, revealing a t-shirt emblazoned with "THIS IS MY LAST IRON CHEF BATTLE EVER."

The cameras were rolling and food was cooking, so filming proceeded as usual until it was time to cut. At that point, producers "rushed in" to confront Flay, telling him, "We're not going to be able to cut around that" -- to which Flay responded, "I know. That's the point."

Less than a day after Vanity Fair broke the story, Flay painted a different picture, telling People that the unexpected moment was just a poorly-received joke:

“This past summer when I was in production on Iron Chef Showdown, I wore a T-shirt to have a little fun during my last battle this season. In hindsight, it was probably not the best decision because it’s just creating confusion," Flay said. "Food Network has been part of my family for over 20 years and will absolutely continue to be, and though there is a talented bench of Iron Chefs to tap, if I were asked, I’d be excited to return to Kitchen Stadium, whenever my schedule allows.”

But according to Vanity Fair's insiders, the stunt definitely was not all in good fun -- it was instead, they said, a climax of brewing tension between Flay and Food Network, where he's appeared on and off in various shows since 2000.

Producers are still trying to figure out what to do with the footage and are considering blurring out his t-shirt -- "Nothing has been decided or settled," a source told VF -- and people close to Flay said that while they don't know his future plans, he very much intended to display a message that couldn't be easily removed in post-production.