The Food Network star, who teamed up with Lipton as part of their Summer Camp event in New York City on Thursday, tells PEOPLE the key to grilling the perfect chicken starts with the type of grill you are using.
“People always ask if they should use charcoal or should they use gas,” he says. “And I think if you want to use charcoal, it’s a great idea. It’s more pure, it’s got more flavor, it’s more old school. But I understand the gas grill for sure. I own both.”
“But if you want to get the best $20 investment for someone who wants to grill with charcoal is to get a chimney starter,” he adds. “It’s a cylinder, and you put crumbled up newspaper in the bottom of it, you fill it with charcoal and then you light the newspaper and put it in the grill and let it slowly heat up.”
Once you have your meat on the grill (Flay says he loves chicken breasts but this works for grilling any part of a chicken), take a brick covered in foil and place it on top of the chicken.
“This will help create a nice, crusty bottom so you have more texture when you’re eating it,” he says.
Don’t have any bricks lying around? Flay also suggests using a cast iron pan. “It’s an amazing thing and they’re inexpensive,” he says. “I use it as a weight, to scramble eggs, to cook steaks, anything.”
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As a professional chef, Flay says when it comes to grilling and hosting summer parties at his house, he’s never off duty. “I literally cook three meals a day when I have people at my house,” he says. “I’m like a one man catering service.”
But the 52-year-old says he got let off the hook once, which was a memorable experience for him: “I remember one weekend last year, I fell asleep at like 6 o’clock and I woke up at like 8 o’clock and my guests had taken over my kitchen,” he says. “All of a sudden there were steaks and I was like ‘What has happened?!’ It freaked me out. They did a great job. I was so happy about it.”