The sun's hot, the beer is cold - these are prime cookout conditions. Make sure yours is the best on the block with these tips and tales from a true grill master.
My first memories of grilling go back to when I was a kid. My parents rented a house every year from Memorial Day to Labor Day on the New Jersey shore and we would cook dinner every night on the grill. We had the typical hot dogs, corn on the cob, and overcooked hamburgers. But on special nights, we would grill big lobsters and steaks. I can still remember what those meals tasted like and the fun that we had preparing them.

Because I live in New York City, where open-flame grilling, as well as propane tanks, is pretty much illegal, I do most of my outdoor cooking during relaxed weekends on Long Island. I grill dinner almost every night I'm out there and often a simple lunch, too.

Grilling is more than a way to cook; it's a culture. People are passionate about grilling and it seems that every cookout I go to has at least one person who has "the best recipe for this" or "the best way to grill that." It always makes for amusing conversation.

If you don't come from a long line of grill masters, don't worry. With a little practice and a few basic tips, anyone can grill. All you need is food and fire. The most important thing to remember is: Don't be intimidated by the grill! If you think of it as a source of heat, just like a stove, you are good to go.

Also, don't confuse grilling with barbecuing, which is slow cooking over a low fire created by charcoal or wood. Even though I use both charcoal and gas grills, I tend to use my gas grill more often because it's fast and I tend to cook smaller pieces of meat and fish. However, there is nothing like a brisket or pork butt cooked slowly over charcoal and slathered with barbecue sauce to make a summer day even more perfect. On my new show, BBQ America with (see Get Cookin' With Bobby Flay on to the left), we'll heat up grills across the country and explore the many different techniques, traditions, and cultures that go hand-in-hand with grilling, barbecue, and beyond.