Options grow as cooks turn more to outdoor kitchens – OCRegister
Whether you grill, barbecue, smoke or saute, cooking outdoors seems to add a special flavor to whatever is being served.
With the summer grilling season here (July is National Grilling Month, after all) consider the options, such as facilitating your backyard entertaining via an outdoor kitchen. According to the Hearth Patio and Barbecue Association, 10 percent of grill owners have an outdoor kitchen, and among those outdoor kitchen fanciers, one-third are likely to be upgrading within the next three years.
Before getting started, find out what permits are needed, how the setup will be connected to your indoor version and whether home utilities can be easily used.
Are you going to want hot and cold water? Make sure natural gas can be connected. Think function. To maximize space for cooking and entertaining, consider spots for hot zones (grills, pizza ovens), dry zones (food prep and storage), wet zones (sink) and cold zones (refrigerators and freezers).
Decide how you want to use the outdoor kitchen. Do you want just the basics, or are you interested in specialized equipment pieces such as tandoors, wet bars and blender stations? List what you want and divide it into “musts” and “extras” as your budget allows. Call on contractors when needed, but also consider prefabricated modular kits that can be easily put together.
And, since the whole idea is to entertain — either your family or others — don’t forget about seating.
When Mary and Michael Fry of Yorba Linda bought their house 15 years ago, it came with an outdoor barbecue, but one ill-placed and not very functional. When the wind blew, so did the smoke — right back in the cook’s face. Since the family enjoys spending as much time outside as possible, they decided to upgrade. A lot.
“We actually have pictures of friends barbecuing in goggles, so we decided to redesign, reconfigure and elaborate on just an outdoor barbecue, with the addition of an outdoor refrigerator, ice maker, warming drawer, side burners, lighting, storage, trash storage (and) serving, dining and barbecue counters, including a sink and remotely expandable awning,” Mary Fry said.
“We also added an outdoor fireplace for the adults and an outdoor fire ring for the kids.”
The investment has paid dividends through the years. The space has been used for client appreciation and charity events, neighborhood gatherings, their son’s college graduation party and even a wedding. More recently, it served as a lovely party venue for Michael Fry’s Harley-Davidson buddies and their significant others.
Russ Faulk is chief designer and head of product for Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet.
“We see no end in sight for the growing popularity of outdoor kitchens,” he said. “Throughout the last decade, we’ve been fortunate enough to see a drastic evolution in the space, and it’s been truly exciting to continue to be at the forefront.”
It’s pretty simple. Homeowners want to spend more time outside eating and entertaining with friends and family.
“For many of our clients, their outdoor kitchen is their favorite part of their home — and it’s easy to see why,” Faulk said. “Over time, this desire to create a special place in the home has influenced outdoor kitchen designs to become more refined. They’re no longer an afterthought.”
The increasingly popular choice also isn’t exclusive to the upscale market.
“Over the next three years, I expect to continue to see more outdoor kitchens becoming better integrated with the architecture of the home,” he added.