Outdoor kitchens are growing in popularity, but proper planning is key to ensuring that cooking outside in Austin can be done throughout the year, including the hot summers. In this post we’ll provide suggestions on which products to choose, design options and what can limit the use of an outdoor kitchen in Austin, TX.
Limiting Factors You’ll Have to Work Around
In Austin homeowners don’t have to deal with the grilling restrictions that renters must follow, however there are a few factors that can hinder your outdoor cooking. Namely, we’re talking about sweltering heat and the blazing sunlight. Fortunately, man is clever enough to outsmart Mother Nature, you just have to plan appropriately.
Create Some Shade
The most effective way to keep cool outdoors is by staying in a shady spot. It’s perfectly fine to build your outdoor kitchen under a patio for instance shade. Slab should already be there, which creates a great foundation for the kitchen. You’ll also have easy access in and out of the house and be in close proximity to electrical outlets.
If you don’t have a covered patio you can create a covering by building a pergola or gazebo, erecting a canopy or by using a portable shelter. The covering you choose isn’t important, but the shade it creates is.
Bonus: A covered outside kitchen also protects the equipment from the elements.
Add Some Air Movement
When the wind is blowing the sun doesn’t seem to be so harsh. Both the chef and diners will feel more comfortable if there’s some air movement whether it’s a ceiling fan that’s installed overhead, table fans or portable standing fans that can be moved around as needed.
Install a Misting System
Misting systems are springing up all across states that are plagued by 100+ degree summer days. There are a lot of benefits for outdoor cooks when a misting system is installed – it will be cooler and more comfortable, it keeps dust out of the air and bugs won’t be hanging around. Before installing your system keep in mind which direction the wind usually blows, how high the misters need to be and where the best placement will be to minimize the potential for wood damage from the misting system.
If a full-on misting system won’t fit in your outdoor kitchen budget there are cheaper alternatives. Companies like Misty Mate Inc. offer misting fan rings that can be attached to portable standing fans. Hook the ring up to your garden hose and you’ll get mist for a fraction of the cost.
Another grilling annoyance of Mother Nature is bugs. While they aren’t as bad as some areas, there are still a multitude of insects that can be found crawling and flying around the outdoor cooking areas of Austin. Ants have gotten bad in recent years and flies will find their way to food no matter where it is. We’ve already mentioned that a misting system can help keep bugs from crashing your cooking, and here are a few more solutions to try.
Cook in a Screened in Area
If you opted to put your outdoor kitchen under a patio consider screening it in. This will improve the entire patio’s year round usability.
The Additional Benefit of a Fan
A fan will not only keep the cooking area cooler it will keep airborne bugs away. The logic is simple, airflow makes it more difficult for insects to fly so wherever there’s a fan you’re less likely to see critters.
Install a Bat Box
Here in Austin we’re home to the world’s largest urban bat colony. These guys are great at keeping the bug population in check. You can build a bat box or order one online to install in a sunny location on the side of your home or better yet on a wooden or steel post.
Opt for Versatile Cooking Apparatuses
When it comes to the actual outdoor kitchen versatility is a high priority. The more options your grill gives you the more space you’ll save and in the end you’ll likely spend less money. That’s why we like Kamado Joe Grills. These compact cooking apparatuses not only grill they also smoke and sear, and there are a number of accessories that allow you to roast whole chickens, cook bread, make pizzas and more.
There are a number of Kamado Joe Grill styles to choose from but if you’re building a complete outdoor kitchen the ProJoe 24.5” or Combos will probably serve you best.
Another beneficial aspect of these grills that should be considered for all your outdoor appliances, countertops, etc. is the durability of the materials. Even if the kitchen is covered it’s going to be out in the elements. Ceramics, steel and stone are all excellent options. If you want to incorporate wood ensure that it can handle moisture, which may require it to be treated.
If you want a true “kitchen” the plumbing will come into play for sinks, ice makers and possibly fridges. This needs to be carefully planned out because any mistakes or changes can be costly. It is also important to consider your electricity options to reduce energy expenses for the additional square footage being added to your outdoor living space.
One part of the outdoor kitchen that often gets overlooked is the prep area. All chefs understand the importance of having ample space that’s dedicated for prepping food and plating things up. Ideally you want a tabletop or counter space just to one side of the grill. If you are incorporating a fridge the countertops just above it also makes an excellent prep area.
Design with the Work Triangle in Mind
The kitchen work triangle is a layout that has been found to be very conducive for cooking. The sink, grill and refrigerator should form a triangle with the grill at the peak in the middle.
We’re outdoor kitchen enthusiasts here at Timbertown Austin. If you have any questions or would like to bounce some design ideas off us feel free to give us a call!
Image Source: flickr.com/photos/triplezero/179858159