The Outdoor Kitchen
Outdoor kitchen design has moved on by leaps and bounds over the last 5 years, with sleek modernist schemes at one end of the budget spectrum and man shacks at the other. They are entirely scalable depending on budget and expectations so compromises on materials and appliances affect the overall spend.
A lot of our work comes from high end developers and luxury house builders who have built private houses or flats and have had requests for outdoor kitchens from their clients. A significant number are for private customers contacting us directly who have more limited budgets but who appreciate the quality and breadth of our projects.
With origins in sunny California in the US , you would think that we were kidding ourselves about our climate to even contemplate spending large amounts of money on trying to cook outside. Some of our clients do want some sort of roof covering but most want quite elaborate schemes plein air, not worrying about a spot of rain occasionally.
Waterproofing is key
As you would expect with outdoor kitchen builds that are open to the elements, everything has to be built to stop water ingress and appliances guaranteed not to leak or break down in what is, after all, quite a hostile environment for any material. Making kitchen carcasses and especially appliances watertight comes at some cost and a typical outdoor rated fridge is twice the price of a good quality indoor under-counter one. We mostly specify Blastcool outdoor coolers as they are very well made and trouble free but other models by Subzero Wolf are available at higher cost and Beefeater at lower cost.
All our carcasses are lined with waterproof boards and detailed to shed water as much as possible. We have a range of bespoke modular cabinets with optional stainless steel or stone worktops that are built to specification so just like an indoor kitchen, they can be made up in any configuration with drawers, cupboards, shelves and voids for appliances. We have designed and installed several outdoor kitchens in carcassing made of stainless steel, hardwood or masonry with all the usual luxuries associated with outdoor builds- gas or charcoal barbeques, side burners, planchas and of course,a pizza oven.
In these photos you can see that we’ve clad simple concrete block in large format Pietra Matraia, a basalt-like stone slab that gives a super chic look to the whole scheme. The pizza oven is hidden inside an enclosure that also incorporates an outdoor rated gas fire surrounded by a Chesney’s Tate limestone fireplace. To cap off the scheme, the flue was sprayed with a RAL colour to exactly match the steel powder-coated pergola. These small details make a scheme work and its what we like to call our signature touch- thought taken over the smallest and seemingly insignificant detail.
A case in point might be a tap. We’ve looked at hundreds of taps online and even on other company’s projects and what you find is that they are overlooked as a design feature in their own right. Many quite smart-looking designs are let down by using a cheap tap and whilst many may baulk at spending over £200 on something that is used occasionally, the difference in quality is remarkable-the stainless steel is well finished, the taps never drip and some have stunning design looks. We have used both Franke and Arwa taps on our projects both for their good looks and design detail and have never been disappointed by our clients reaction.
Remember that you’ll need a water supply and waste pipe buried underground and rising inside your sink cupboard. If you need hot water, instead of running it from the house, try installing an under sink instant water heater so you only heat what you use. You can house any wiring run from the consumer unit in a small cupboard within your outdoor kitchen.
Let’s Cook in your new outdoor kitchen!
Let’s face it, the main reason you’re outside is to cook! We started with the wood-fired oven as a stand-alone piece of equipment but things have moved on with outdoor cooks being more demanding of their appliances, be it a BBQ or a smoker or a simple burner to heat up sauces or fry up foods. As you would expect with this explosion of interest, many companies have jumped on the craze and sell anything from a set of outdoor furniture to a whole ready-made outdoor kitchen. We decided at the outset to specialise on bespoke builds rather than be a simple stockist and as designers specify particular appliances for individual projects.
If you’ve come to this blog via our website you’ll know we distribute Four Grand-Mere wood-fired ovens to the UK market. Whilst we occasionally specify other ovens for very particular circumstances, the Four Grand-Mere range is huge, ranging from a small 70cm oven to massive bakery ovens 3m across, so there is always an oven we can recommend. Our best seller is the F800 ‘Campagnard’ oven, the one we most specify for our domestic customers as it cooks one or two pizzas at a time and heats up quickly with a small amount of fuel. With the insulating door in place, food can be cooked on residual heat and as the mass cools so slowly, quite a number of slow-cooked dishes can be left to simmer away or bake overnight.
US made grills
Our go-to BBQ for most of our projects with developers has been the Firemagic range built in California. Not only incredibly well made but also very versatile with gas and charcoal options, the range comes in a number of sizes that suit most outdoor kitchen projects. They are easy to fit, quick to heat up and programmable via a small LED backlit console at the front. The gas burners are a bit fiddly to change if on mains gas rather than bottled LPG but normally only takes about half an hour to swap over.
Similar to Firemagic are the ranges by SubzeroWolf and Lynx both also made in the US. All are expensive compared to their cheaper multi branded Chinese counterparts but when you see the quality of build of US models you’ll understand the difference. Nearly all of them have an optional removable rotisserie and motor so if you go for this you’ll need an outdoor rated power socket nearby.
By contrast to the often large hooded BBQs made in the US, are sleek modern almost flat grills made in the EU, where emphasis is on minimalism and elegance. Often modular in format, European made outdoor kitchens incorporate grills, worktops and sinks in units that can be rearranged in orientation making them scalable in size and complexity.
These had their ancient origins in the far east with both China and Japan having their own versions in simple clay to cook rice. The Kamado grill is related in many ways to the tandoor as it uses charcoal and a fireclay body to hold heat so in all its various modern guises, Kamado Joe, Big Green Egg, Grill Dome etc it is basically an egg-shaped vessel with a grill and lid to keep the heat in. The heat of the charcoal in the base once lit is adjusted by air valves at the base and on the lid so its possible to start with a raging 400C and then throttle back to under 100C.
The useful thing about the Kamados is that they can be bought with or without a cart enabling them to sit within a worktop or dedicated unit.
They also have a range of useful accessories for split level cooking and even baking pizza. Their raison d’etre these days seems to be meat cooking as they can cook at high heat, smoke and if throttled down, do low and slow baking. Having said that, vegetables roast over charcoal are delicious and because its basically a supercharged BBQ will do other things like fish really well.
I’m not going to do a review of the different brands but if you want to read about them in more detail click here.( Note that this is an american article but reviews some of the top brands available worldwide.)
Please get in touch if you have a project that we can help you with-
• Grills. Mains or Bottled Gas
• Side Burners
• Warming Drawers
• Wood Fired Pizza Ovens
• Teppanyaki Grills
• Kamado grills
• Waste Disposal/Bins
• Log Storage
see our projects here https://www.wood-firedoven.co.uk/projects/