NYT ARTICLE ON OUTDOOR KITCHENS AND INDUSTRY EXPERTS!
Did you know that in Austin is a leading expert in the outdoor kitchen business. Sought by the New York times, and HGTV and more to be the expert they use. The owner of FLO Grills of Austin formally Louisiana outdoor kitchens in Austin, Chris Smith is that guy. Below is an article that Chris was interviewed regarding the different reasons and uses of the outdoor kitchen and the current trends in outdoor living. Come by FLO Grills of Austin today and meet with Chris on your next outdoor living project consultations are free.
ENTERTAINING is often the main reason for having a weekend or vacation home, and for many people that all but requires outdoor cooking.
“We divide customers into two classes,” said Chris Smith, the owner of Louisiana Outdoor Kitchens of Austin, Tex., “those who want outdoor cooking and those who want outdoor living.” The latter, he said, want everything outdoors: lighting, heat, ice makers and refrigerators. “They never want to have to go back inside,” he said. Those interested in merely cooking outdoors might make do with just a grill.
For do-it-yourselfers, the most elaborate outdoor kitchen is probably within reach, as long as you hire professionals to make the electric and natural gas or propane connections. You can find information and products online, but first you should answer a few questions:
Where will the kitchen be built? If it’s to be on a wooden deck, you need to be sure that the deck can support the weight of heavy appliances and counters, and you have to commit to maintaining the wood surfaces and checking for signs of sagging. If it’s to be on a stone or concrete patio, the patio must be pitched enough to let water drain off but level enough for counters and appliances.
What will it be built of? The counters and islands of most outdoor kitchens being built today are framed in metal and encased in cement board, to which stucco, stone or tiles can be applied. Modular frames are available from Cal Spas of Pomona, Calif., which makes products for outdoor living. Aluminum cabinets, like those available from Louisiana Outdoor Kitchens, can provide weather-resistant storage.
Which appliances? If the outdoor kitchen is just a step or two from the indoor one, a refrigerator or an ice maker might be overkill. The grill, though, is the one essential appliance, whether or not it has auxiliary burners or a warming oven. At Cal Spas, a four-burner Cal Flame Genesis stainless-steel grill designed to be dropped into a counter, is $1,095; and an outdoor stainless-steel refrigerator, made to withstand the elements and wide swings in temperature, is $495.
What kind of countertop? Concrete and stone make great countertops, but they might require professional installation.
Will there be a sink? Many outdoor kitchens do without sinks, which add plumbing costs and can make countertops more expensive. If you live in an area with freezing winters, be sure your plumber provides an easy way for you to drain all the pipes when the temperature drops.
And, the most important question: Will you use it enough to justify the expense? Oddly enough, the location of a second home seems to have little to do with how often people cook outdoors. It depends more on how often you’re at the second home and how much you like to cook. Even in the Southwest, people use outdoor kitchens in the summer to avoid heating up the interior of their houses. In cooler climates, people use propane patio heaters in spring and fall to extend the season.
If you’re the sort of second-home owner who relies on contractors, your outdoor kitchen can surpass most indoor kitchens in sophistication. Dennis Curry, an owner of Paradise Island Grills & More in Phoenix, said his company has designed kitchens that have built-in stereos and counter-mounted appliances, as well as custom backsplashes, outdoor ovens and fire pits.
Shiva Noble, executive vice president for Cal Spas, said that her company’s outdoor kitchen options range from a 12-foot island with top grilling equipment, a stereo system and a drop-down television for $35,000 to a grill-only island for less than $3,000.
Whether your kitchen is a D.I.Y. project or a designer’s showpiece, you still need to maintain it. “This weekend, I took a hose and soapy water to my entire outdoor kitchen and washed it down,” Mr. Curry said. “I dried the countertop with paper towels and the stainless steel with a soft towel.”
If you’re closing the kitchen for the season, there’s a bit more to do. “It’s always best to start with a good cleaning,” Ms. Noble said. “Detail it thoroughly and be sure to remove any traces of food. Then, cover the entire island, not just the grill, with a weather-resistant cover, and be sure that the cover is properly secured.” You can still cook for your guests; you’ll just have to reacquaint yourself with your indoor kitchen.