Outdoor kitchens, are all the rave! These answers will help you choose elements that are maintenance-free and look great year after year.
Made in Canada, NatureKast Cabinetry is 100-percent weatherproof. It has the look and feel of real wood, but because it is made of high-density resin, it will not swell, fade, crack, or split like regular wood. NatureKast Cabinetry is custom manufactured for each project. The line includes a wide variety of accessories such as waste bins, integrated cooler drawers, and TV cabinets to allow full customization of your outdoor kitchen.
Neolith countertops are the most durable product on the market today. Made of natural materials exposed to extreme heat and intense pressure, Neolith is easy to clean, UV-resistant, waterproof, freeze and thaw resistant, lightweight, and resistant to scratches, abrasion, and wear. Neolith countertops are available in a variety of colors and can be used on any outdoor surface or wall.
Photo: Pacific Shore Stones
Today’s outdoor kitchens often incorporate several cooking elements, including built-in grills, smokers, and even pizza ovens. Many built-in grills include searing features and rotisserie roasting as well as traditional grilling. Griddle and side burner accessories are also available on many models. Our appliance partner, All, Inc. carries several full-featured built-in models that we recommend, including Caliber and Wolf.
Smokers are also popular additions to the outdoor kitchen. There is nothing quite like a slowly smoked brisket or rack of ribs! There are two primary types of smokers: the kamado style, such as the Big Green Egg, or wood pellet grill, such as Memphis Grills. Smokers can be either free-standing or built in to your outdoor kitchen.
Add a taste of Italy to your outdoor entertaining with a built-in pizza oven. Authentic pizza ovens use wood-fired heat and as a result are quite large. They are often built into the stonework of the outdoor kitchen. Smaller pizza ovens may also be integrated into your space. Using either natural gas or propane, they can be built in or positioned on a countertop.
If your cooking appliance is partially enclosed or has a substantial roof over it, don’t forget about ventilation! Outdoor cooking naturally involves smoke and grease, which will quickly fill your space if there is not adequate ventilation. Several options are available to keep adequate fresh air circulating in your space.
A variety of refrigeration options are available for your outdoor kitchen. Specialized refrigerator drawers are a handy and flexible solution that can easily accommodate beverages or food items. Outdoor freezers are also available. If your outdoor kitchen will be used frequently for entertaining, an ice maker is a must. Just make sure any refrigeration, freezer, or ice making unit you select is rated for outdoor use.
Preparing your outdoor kitchen for winter is not difficult. Turn off power to all refrigerator/freezer/ice making units. Turn off water and drain all plumbing. Note that the valves should be kept open during the winter. Empty and clean all refrigerator/freezer/ice making units with mild soap and water.
Fall is also a good time to clean your grill. Empty the drip pan and thoroughly clean the grates. If you will not be using the grill during the winter, turn off the gas to the grill.
Don’t forget to remove items from your cabinets that might not withstand the winter. Be sure trash is removed and the trash bin area thoroughly cleaned to prevent unwanted critters from making a cozy winter home in your outdoor kitchen!
If you have NatureKast cabinets and Neolith countertops, you are done! Otherwise, you will need to apply a coat of polish to your stainless steel cabinets and seal/oil wood cabinets. Granite tops are porous, and should be sealed and covered to prevent damage during winter’s freeze/thaw cycles. You should discuss specific care instructions with your designer to ensure that your countertop is properly protected.
The best outdoor kitchens are designed with as much thought as indoor kitchens. A good kitchen designer has the expertise necessary to assist you in design of your outdoor kitchen and selection of the appropriate products.
Your kitchen designer will ask you questions about how you plan to use the space, how much entertaining you expect to do, whether you want to include bar seating or a dining table, fireplace, fire pit, or other seating areas. A good design also includes sufficient counter space for food prep and serving. Last but not least, your designer will make sure your space is well-ventilated and will be comfortable for you and your guests.
*Featured photo at top: Mark Hauri