Cooking on the Wild Side - Page 2

Sizzling summery secrets to turn an outdoor kitchen into a special space for all
One side of the Fuego Modular
One side of the Fuego Modular
Two sides of the Fuego Modular, a very modern and fully customized outdoor kitchen that serves up individual stainless steel and teak modules for grilling, warming, stashing, chilling, and washing.
Weber Summit Grill Center
Weber's Summit Grill Center, which features enclosed cabinetry and an additional serving area.

Kitchens are taking to the outdoors in ever-increasing numbers. In fact, 70 percent of Americans say that when it comes to saving money, they prefer cooking out to eating out, according to a national poll by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. They also indicate that a cookout at home is more fun and relaxing than dining out, especially because it requires no travel, special dress, or dealing with crowds.

“Outdoor cooking is a very popular pastime that unites friends and family with great-tasting food that’s easy and affordable,” says Leslie Wheeler, director of communications for the association. “Whether it’s a weekday family meal on the grill or a weekend barbecue, outdoor cooking can make preparing the meal just as easy and relaxing as enjoying the delicious food with others.”

The outdoor flavors, the experience of enjoying food hot off the grill, and the fresh air all create a unique experience. And while a simple barbeque grill may once have sufficed, today’s outdoor cooking areas now include cooktops, beverage centers, wood-fired ovens, and warming drawers.

Layout

Outdoor kitchens come in many forms. They may be as simple as pairing a gas grill with a prep table, or a more complex built-in arrangement.

The location and layout of your outdoor kitchen should be customized to your particular home’s attributes,” Groen says. “You can make the most of a view, like a pool or canyon, fill in a dead corner, or maximize a big empty space.”

While sculpting the space, analyze how the outdoor kitchen will work with other areas in the backyard. It’s not enough to just stick an outdoor kitchen on the back of the house. Try to combine the cooking space with the dining and lounging areas. Create opportunities for interaction and conversation within the outdoor kitchen, and between the outdoor kitchen and other areas. Think of them as outdoor rooms, and consider the traffic flow between them as part of the design.

OS Royal readymade outdoor kitchen.
Outstanding's OS Royal readymade outdoor kitchen contains a barbecue, an integrated sink, and plenty of stainless steel for prep and storage.

Dawn Whyte, principal designer and owner of Designs by Dawn in Petosky, Michigan, says you’ll want to ask yourself how self-sufficient the outdoor kitchen needs to be.

You want easy access to the indoors for dishes and utensils, and for monitoring food that’s being prepped indoors,” she says. “This is particularly important if you are planning a limited kitchen without water. If you are planning a fully operational outdoor kitchen, you need to consider the availability of gas, water lines, and sewer.”