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The outdoor kitchen has been gaining popularity in all areas of the world where the climate is suited to al fresco dining. The idea of extending cooking and eating areas into the outdoors appeals to many people, and with demand has come an increase in options and ideas. You can spend anywhere between a couple of thousand dollars and more than $30,000 on your outdoor kitchen setup, so it's important to determine exactly what you're after.
Extending the Indoors Outside
Ideally, your indoor kitchen will be next to the area which you want to turn into an outdoor kitchen. This will mean that even when you're cooking outside, you'll still have easy access to your oven, main fridge, cutlery and other important items. This may not matter so much if you've got a full-blown outdoor kitchen, but for most people it will make life a lot easier.
If you're looking to prepare food outside, an outdoor island bench may be the answer. This has all the same advantages as an indoor island - it provides extra prep space and allows you to interact with other people even while you're preparing your food.
In many ways, the outdoor kitchen is an extension of the humble barbecue, and your grill will almost certainly be the most important part of your set-up. There's no shortage of choices on the market - you can have a portable grill or get it built into your outdoor cabinetry. You can add a spit-roaster, a side-burner and a griddle, for instance. If you're serious about cooking outdoors, make sure you invest in something that's durable - otherwise, you might find yourself battling rust problems down the track. If your house is connected to gas, you should also be able to run a line outside to power your grill.
Other Outdoor Options
A basic outdoor kitchen set-up could consist of the grill, a side-burner, some shelves for storing plates, pots and pans, and drawers in which to keep knives, forks and cooking utensils. You'll still have to wash up and prepare food inside, but these basic bits and pieces will help make entertaining outside a whole lot less hassle.
But if you're prepared to go the whole hog, the sky's the limit. Think an outdoor refrigerator, oven, dishwasher, preparation sink and more. You'll need to make sure that all of these appliances are hardy enough to stand up to the weather in your outdoor area. A set-up like this will cost a lot of money, especially when you factor in labour. But if you're the type of person (or family) who loves to eat outside whenever possible, it may just be worth your while.
While you can build your outdoor kitchen from scratch, it's also possible to order pre-assembled units and have them installed at your house. These tend to be reasonably priced and certainly cut down on the hassle.