04 November 2008

Cooking on the grill is a great way to entertain company or just feed the family without heating up the kitchen. More pleasant if you grilled at the outdoor kitchen. That’s why convenience and flexibility became key points in outdoor grilling.

You can start to consider installing an outdoor kitchen if :
  • You grill often in large amounts
  • You frequently have guests to a cookout, and everyone ends up huddled around you on the
  • patio, socializing while they watch you cook.
  • You have a little used deck or patio that you would like to incorporate into daily life.
  • Cooking in the summertime heats up your house so much that the air conditioning cannot keep up.
So, what are you looking for in an outdoor kitchen?
  • What kind of food and cooking will I do outdoors?
  • How often and what time of the year will I have for the space?
  • What kind of entertaining do I do? Large groups or small?
  • Will we eat outdoors or bring the food back inside?
  • What furniture do I/will I have for the space?
  • Are the kitchen components install permanently or can be moved?
Placement of the Outdoor Kitchen
There are a few key elements to consider when deciding where to place an outdoor kitchen. Keep these in mind when planning the space, and the resulting kitchen will be much more efficient and enjoyable.
  1. Keep it Close. No matter how great the outdoor culinary space is, some of the prep work will undoubtedly happen in the inside kitchen. It's easier to run in and fetch a tool or an ingredient if the outdoor kitchen is close to the inside one.
  2. Access to Utilities. Consider access to utilities when designing the kitchen. Will electricity be needed? Plumbing? The cost of running these utilities to an outdoor kitchen can vary greatly based on location.
  3. City Code. Be sure to check with the local municipality to find out what codes might dictate placement of the outdoor kitchen. Setback regulations, permit requirements, and what is allowable is different from community to community, so be sure to check with local regulations before spending any time or money on an outdoor kitchen.
  4. Covering/ Roof. A good kitchen idea is to build it with some sort of roof or covering structure over it. By doing this, you will be able to enjoy your backyard barbeque station with added privacy and shelter from any of the elements. This is especially necessary if you live in an area with frequent summer showers. Also, the outdoor kitchen idea of a roof is excellent for those who want to protect their kitchen equipment and cabinetry from any of the harsh elements found in some areas of America.
Organize the Space
Outdoor kitchens are all about entertaining, so bear that in mind when designing the space. Be sure to consider :
  1. The Work Triangle. Traditional kitchen design also applies in outdoor kitchens. Consider arranging the kitchen in the classic work triangle, the cooking area, food storage area, and clean up area should each be at a point in the triangle. This allows multiple people to work efficiently together in the kitchen space.
  2. Enough Space for Guests. Think about the kind of entertaining that will happen in the space. Large parties? Intimate gatherings? Plan enough seating and room for people to mingle accordingly. There should be plenty of space for people to watch you as you cook, and there should be room for foot traffic to flow around the food preparation area. Leave an area for people to sit and socialize without being involved with the cooking, and make sure children will not be playing near the grill.
  • Put 36" of work space on either side of the grill and burners.
  • Keep 18"-24" of open space on either side of the sink.
  • Allow 36"-42" between the edge of the dining table and whatever is around it so people can
  • walk behind the chairs. Place the table well away from any stairs.
    If you are including an eating counter, allow 24" of width per stool and 15" of leg room.
Elements to Consider Including
  1. Grill. There are so many types of grills available you can go plain or fancy. There are even elaborate grills that will have side burners and storage space. These type of grills are very convenient because you will be able to grill your meat while at the same time boil some vegetables.
  2. Pizza ovens. Not only can wood-fired ovens be used for pizza, but they can cook anything from magnificent artisan breads to the Thanksgiving turkey, roasting meat and vegetables. Manufactured ovens are available from manufacturers like Forno Bravo and Fogazzo. The ovens can also be built in the traditional manner, out of bricks.
  3. Smokers. Elegant smoked salmon and homey beef brisket turn out equally well in this low-temperature device.
  4. Sinks. Either fed with a hose or connected to the house's water supply. Consider adding a sink to the outdoor kitchen. It involves bringing plumbing to the area, but it helps with prep and cleanup, and allows all of the action to happen outside.
  5. Refrigerators. Useful for storage of perishable ingredient, keeping food cold until it’s time to cook as well as beverages.
  6. Prep Surface. Be sure to include enough prep surface in the outdoor kitchen design. With a solid plan in place before ground is broken, construction of the outdoor kitchen will go more smoothly and quickly, and the end result will be something to enjoy for years.
  7. Exhaust hood to keep smoke out of the eyes of diners.
  8. Electrical outlets for using small appliances, stereos and more. (Outdoor outlets should be of the GFCI type. Make sure your electrical wiring meets local code.)
  9. Warming drawers so nothing arrives at the table cold.
  10. Ice machine so no one has to drag around a heavy cooler.
  11. Wine storage so you will not have to go back inside unless you forget the corkscrew.
Covers are available to keep most grills safe from the elements, and any other parts of your outdoor kitchen should be made of materials that are weatherproof. Some good examples are teak, stainless steel, slate, stone, tile and stucco.

Provide a cover for the cook and the cooking area so a little rainfall will not ruin the meal. But be sure to leave enough ventilation so smoke from the grill can blow away. If your grill is in an enclosed area, consider adding an exhaust hood.

Be sure that the area directly underneath the grill can withstand high heat and any sparks or embers that might fall, and that it can support the weight of the equipment that rests on it. Most patios should work fine, but decks might need additional structural support.


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