I love a good Queer Eye mystery, and I am unreasonably, personally invested in the question of whether Antoni can cook. That means I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Antoni’s affinity for kitchen gadgets and knickknacks, from the self-kneading pasta machine he gives to bartender Leo without any obvious instruction to the Chinese takeout containers he uses to serve roasted cauliflower to veggie wrap–loving William. But the one countertop appliance that’s really stuck with me—and also seems to be Antoni’s favorite, since he’s gifted it twice in 16 episodes—is the indoor electric grill.
The first time we see the appliance in question is Episode 4 of Season 1, when Antoni presents what he calls an “indoor grill pad” to A.J., the sweet, sweet man who made everyone in America bawl when he came out to his stepmom. “It’s infrared on the sides,” Antoni says before putting a piece of oiled and salted zucchini on the grill plate. We see the grill again in the Season 2 finale, inside Mayor Ted’s house, where Antoni prepares Asian doughnut peaches (not Georgia ones, as Grub Street’s Nikita Richardson wisely points out in her roundup of everything Antoni cooks) for an upcoming dinner party with diplomats from the Philippines and Sierra Leone.
In neither of these exchanges does Antoni mention the make or model of the gadget in front of us or even why the infrared light matters on this indoor grill. But the appeal is obvious, especially for apartment dwellers: a straightforward, safe, smokeless way to grill without going outside. So with some NCIS-style image enhancing and some Catfish-inspired Google reverse image searches, I figured out which indoor grill is the exact model featured in the show and beloved by Antoni, and it’s this Philips indoor grill.
And it turns out the infrared light giving Antoni that hint of bisexual lighting isn’t just for show. It’s actually the main heating component of the grill and the reason why Philips calls it “smokeless.” Flare-ups and smoke happen on a charcoal or propane grill when fat drips from the meat directly onto the fire below. This grill’s design prevents that from happening by keeping the infrared-light heat sources on the sides. That means when the fat drips, it falls into a drip pan and not on the heat source, thereby eliminating flare-ups and making the whole thing “smokeless”—or, at the very least, smoke less than a traditional grill. The manufacturer also claims that the infrared light allows for a more even sear, since the lights heat up the grill quickly and keep it at the same consistent temperature.
But as I feel about most of Antoni’s recipes, the ingredient—or, in this case, tool—he’s chosen isn’t my favorite option. (Antoni, if you’re reading this, I am so sorry to back-seat chef, and I love your taste in T-shirts, and I hope to someday run into you at the Whole Foods in Williamsburg!) I much prefer this indoor electric grill from Zojirushi, which has an easy-to-clean grill plate that’ll sear grill marks on your food, like the Philips, but a much slimmer profile and no scary infrared light emanating from inside like it’s going to suck you into an alien portal. My family and I have been using some version of this grill my entire life to make Korean barbecue at home, and we’ve never had issues with smoking. It’s also about half the price of the Philips, with much of the same basic functionality.
If you’re looking for a sub-$100 indoor grilling option and aren’t afraid of playing with some fire, you can also get an old-school cast-iron grill from Lodge. The heavy-duty grill plate goes over two burners on a stove—gas is going to give you the best results, but you can make electric work—and though it takes a while to heat up, and your risk of smoking is higher than with either of the electric options, it’s definitely the indoor grill that’s closest in spirit to firing up the charcoal.