Last year, celebrity designer Nicole Sassaman added an outdoor kitchen to her backyard with the latest outdoor appliances that help her entertain, including a 42-inch built-in barbecue, wok, warming drawer, refrigerator, rotisserie chicken cooker and sink with running water.
Why does she need all this equipment? When Sassaman wanted to throw a party in the backyard or grill up some steaks, she would have to carry utensils, equipment and food back and forth, cook then return inside to clean up and do it all over again. Deborah Krasner, author of The New Outdoor Kitchen: Cooking Up a Kitchen for the Way You Live and Play, says that the new outdoor appliances have changed that way of life completely for Sassaman and others who like to entertain. “It can be quite a distance from the kitchen to the backyard, especially with the McMansions nowadays, but now you can store all of the food and flatware right outside and it’s a whole new dimension to your living,” she says.
Whether you are entertaining for two or 200, you can choose from traditional outdoor appliances such as grills and refrigerators to the newer pizza ovens, freezers, ice makers, keg tappers, wine chillers and more. “Today’s discriminating consumers wants more than a built-in backyard grill, they want fully-functioning, luxurious outdoor kitchens filled with the same custom touches and culinary conveniences of its indoor counterpart,” says Bret Hadley, CEO of Lynx Professional Grills in Commerce, Calif.
But the grill remains the center appliance of outdoor cooking. And now consumers want it bigger and better, says Bruce Spangrud, founder and president of Calise Outdoor Kitchen Concepts in Las Vegas, Nev. “The size of the new grills allows you to cook burgers on one side, chicken in the middle and ribs on the other side,” he says. “It gives you flexibility.”
There are more grilling options available, as well. “Grilling surfaces—such as a hibachi or flattop surface for pancakes, veggies and other foods—are what customers want,” says Russ Faulk, marketing director of Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet in Chicago, Ill. Infrared grills that replicate the same high-heat steakhouse taste that the restaurants use are the latest hot-selling
Keeping It Fresh
Outside refrigerators and icemakers keep food fresh and readily available outdoors, but they have almost doubled in size from their earlier versions 18 to 36 inches across. “They also come with drawers that have different temperatures so you can store food at various settings,” says Spangrud. Smaller units are still available for those who wish to maximize their outdoor kitchen space. Some refrigeration units, like the Dynamic Cooking Systems, or DCS, by Fisher & Paykel incorporate several features, including storage units and a wine cooler. Others include a refrigerator, ice maker and beer dispenser all in one.
Krasner also says that outdoor kitchens now come with ample storage space for non-refrigerated items and more choices for cabinetry.
If you want all the extras, be ready to pay. According to Chuck Casto, grilling expert with CSNStores.com, the most elegant outdoor kitchens can include a high-end grill with infrared cooking capabilities, a refrigerator, a sink, a wine chiller, a freezer and even a full bar, complete with counters, seats, a special glass chiller and an outdoor ice maker. “The price range for outdoor kitchens is quite broad—starting around $3,000 and going well over $100,000,” he says.
Whatever you choose, it’s important to match your entertaining needs, lifestyle and budget.
Credit: Renovate with Tommy Mac