What features do I need in my outdoor kitchen?
Part 2: The Optional Extras
If you’ve read our article on which cooking medium to choose for your outdoor kitchen, you are hopefully a little closer to deciding what you want your overall design to look like. It is down to personal preference, so some careful thought about you, your favourite foods and your ideal party will help steer you in the right direction.
Be part of the party! The event that inspired the very first CENA outdoor kitchen was an upscale BBQ party for 70 guests. A day and an evening spent dashing from the indoor kitchen to the outdoor terrace with ingredients, tools and drinks and then BBQing facing the wall with no rest until the food was cleared made us think - surely these parties are to be enjoyed? On this day, the cook certainly didn’t get to be a part of the party.
So how does an outdoor kitchen help us do things differently, and enjoy a party such as the one detailed above? The biggest benefit of an outdoor kitchen is that you can keep condiments, ingredients and tools outside, so you are perfectly prepared for an efficient and enjoyable cooking session. Secondly, being in one place with your guests means that they can enjoy your company without you having to excuse yourself periodically to cover off another dish or fetch something from indoors.
An outdoor kitchen should therefore provide everything you typically need for you and your guests to enjoy themselves in situ. This looks different for different people but for most, there are some commonalities that could make all of the difference:
A fridge is an excellent addition to an outdoor kitchen for many reasons. Meat, seafood and other ingredients can be stored safely until the moment they are used, salad and vegetables will be fresh and tasty, and drinks will be perfectly chilled. Whether you prefer Cote De Provence, Prosecco or an imported beer, there’s nothing worse than a slightly-warm drink at a summer BBQ!
If you can separate the food and the drinks into two fridges, aside from the obvious increases in capacity, you can also be more precise with your temperature control; especially important if you're providing Whispering Angel. There is something eminently elegant about a wine fridge and they are ever more commonplace in the modern indoor kitchen, so why not outdoors?
If you need the full capacity of a food fridge but lack the space or budget to include a chiller then you could opt for a built-in or standalone ice bucket, providing a "hotel on the beach" feel.
This is the instant upgrade you get from a BBQ to any outdoor kitchen - the ability to store ingredients and tools and be ready for a spontaneous outdoor dinner. Having plates, cutlery glassware, implements, condiments and an array of other essentials on hand means you are won’t constantly have to move things from inside your home into the garden.
Hygiene can be a factor to consider here, so it’s essential to make sure that storage is damp proof and pest proof as unwelcome residents and odours will slow down preparations.
Hardly the most exciting element to your outdoor kitchen but another step away from the traditional BBQ is being able to keep tools and surfaces clean during the cooking process and wash salad and vegetables before use. A sink and hot/cold-water supply will allow you to safely prepare meat dishes and wash everything up at the end of the meal, whilst still enjoying the company of your guests.
So, what to incorporate?
Unless your space and budget are unlimited it may be worth considering your priorities and practicalities, for example:
- How far if your outdoor kitchen from your indoor kitchen? If you simply step out of the bifold doors it may be worth focusing your budget and space on cooking mediums you don't have indoors so that you have maximum flexibility. It may also mean you can save space on food refrigeration and opt for a bottle fridge.
- If you are too far from your indoor kitchen then storage may be the key to prevent too much walking back and forth. The same can be said for refrigeration, so take a look at what you want to use the kitchen for and how much space you have.
As you can see, with so many choices it is worth speaking to one of the CENA design team who can help you focus your available space and budget on what's important - even if you don't know quite what you want at this point!