The Top Chef judge shares her picks for easy seasonal meals.

on Jun 18 - The Dish

Gail Simmons has one motto when it comes to staying cool and cooking delicious meals in the summertime: you must grill to stay chill! So, what’s cooking on her barbie?

"I will roast or grill any vegetable," the Top Chef judge tells Us Weekly. "I love to grill summer squash with some salt, pepper flakes and maybe chili powder for a really easy dish. I also love grilling stone fruit as it comes into season: Apricots, plums, peaches. I'm a really big fan of making fresh summer salads and simple grilled food and doing the least possible to it."

In addition to a grill, there are a few more items on Gail’s summer must-haves list.

She explains, "My citrus juicer is the gadget that gets the most use in my house, but a flexible fish spatula is great for the grill. An old-fashioned mortar and pestle makes it really easy to make your own sauce, like chimichurri that goes well with grilled steak, or a spice rub."

Gail gave birth to her first child, daughter Dahlia Rae, in December. And with six months of mothering under her belt, the new mom has a few rules when it comes to grocery shopping for her family in New York City, where she lives with her daughter and husband Jeremy Abrams.

"There are definitely certain fruits and vegetables that I believe in buying organic, but more important than organic to me is buying local," she reveals.

She has even teamed up with Wholesome Wave and Pure Leaf Iced Tea to raise awareness about buying local. The campaign asks that users on social media include the hashtag #LoveOfLeaves in their tweets to donate $1 to Wholesome Wave's cause.

And she has some key advice on what produce is best when purchased organic. “Strawberries and apples are worth buying organic when you can, but local is often just as good as organic. My non-scientific rule is that when you're eating the skin of something, I like to buy organic, so you know there aren't pesticides. If you're peeling it, it's usually less detrimental."

Top Chef Duels is slated to premiere Wednesday, August 6 at 10pm ET/PT.