Atlanta Outdoor Cooking: Every Space, Every Budget
As everyone knows, the kitchen is usually the heart of the home. This is especially true during parties!
When you entertain outdoors, the same thing happens. Family and guests alike tend to flock to the outdoor cooking area. This is usually the center of any gathering, and likely the most-used area in your backyard. Even if your outdoor cooking spot is in the parking lot at a tailgate or under the trees at a campground, it’s the hub of activity.
No matter what your budget constraints, space constrictions or portability needs, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a roundup of some of the newest, most innovative cooking options—from portable to posh!
Made for Mobility
Grilling on the go? In Atlanta, where grilling is almost a religion, there are a few extremely popular options.
One is of course The Big Green Egg, which is headquartered here in Chamblee. The Big Green Egg is specially designed to contain heat with only a small vent at the top to create enough draft to keep the fire going. They are more versatile than traditional grills, allowing for baking and smoking as well. They’re so popular that their fans even have their own moniker: Eggheads!
Kamado Joe is another ‘egg like’ option. It’s similar to Big Green Egg but is often a bit more affordable, and many users prefer the extra versatility of the split grill grates and removable ash drawer.
Even more affordable are more traditional but still powerful grills like the Weber Q 1200 grill ($219), which was just released in a variety of colors. Renowned for its durability, the Q 1200 has a lid and body made of cast aluminum; it also boasts a single 8,500 BTU burner, electronic ignition, 189 square inches of cooking space, two folding work tables, a built-in lid thermometer and porcelain-enameled cast iron cooking grates. “The versatility of the Q 1200 allows every griller—new and experienced—to enjoy this grill,” says Kim Lefko with Weber-Stephen Products LLC.
“It’s perfect for millennials looking for a grill that fits on a balcony or can easily be toted to the beach or a music festival. Also, more established grillers—many of whom own multiple grills—can fire up the powerful Q 1200 for smaller meals that don’t require the space of a full-sized gas grill.” Weber also offers the Weber Q Portable Cart ($79.99), a folding stand to support the grill.
If you’re looking for a larger grill, the Coleman NXT 200 ($250) is a popular choice, especially among campers. The grill offers a built-in collapsible stand, a 321-square-inch cooking surface, push-button start, 20,000 BTUs and a built-in thermometer on its lid.
Small Space, Big Design
In today’s outdoor kitchen market, homeowners have the ability to customize many options to meet their preferences, which makes it easier than ever to design for small spaces. “A hybrid grill offers the ability to use both gas and charcoal while grilling, allowing for complete customization of the grilling experience in one appliance,” says Jim Ginocchi of Coyote Outdoor Living. “Grilling has become much more diverse and has really gone beyond just hamburgers and hot dogs. Adding appliances such as a power burner or drop-in griddle allows you the capability to make non-traditional grilling foods, such as pancakes or eggs, right on the grill.”
Whereas traditional outdoor kitchens are built into patios with stone surrounds and countertops, today’s outdoor kitchen options have expanded to include modular offerings, such as those from Coyote Outdoor Living or Gensun Casual Living (both are available at retailers throughout the Atlanta area). These modular options include cabinetry, grills, bars and more, and they allow you the flexibility of configuring and customizing your outdoor kitchen to suit your size and needs. Made from stainless steel or powder-coated aluminum, these options are also budget-friendly and eliminate costly site modification or additional construction.
Large and Luxe
With a big backyard and a big budget, you can essentially recreate your indoor kitchen outdoors. From cabinets to countertops and sinks to refrigerators, outdoor options are aplenty. “Many grills now offer capabilities similar to those of an indoor kitchen, allowing homeowners to smoke, roast and slow cook items,” Ginocchi says.
Stainless steel pizza ovens are hot commodities for outdoor cooks, as are extra large cooking spaces with grill grates, griddles and burners. You can also incorporate design elements that match your home, such as stone or brick to match your exterior and granite or tile to match your interior.
But fully loaded outdoor kitchens don’t have to break the bank. Coyote Outdoor Living offers a line of professional-grade appliances that allow for a full outdoor kitchen at a cost of less than $6,000, including a 36-inch grill that features an infrared RapidSear burner, rotisserie kit, smoker box, interior hood lights and backlit knobs; a built-in beverage refrigerator; outdoor-rated stainless steel cabinets with a warming drawer; a 60,000-BTU power burner; and a refreshment center equipped with a built-in sink/faucet and an insulated drop-in cooler.
Play By The Rules
Before beginning an outdoor kitchen project, you should learn about your limitations: zoning laws, building setbacks, homeowners’ association regulations, etc. How close can you build to your property lines? What are the building codes for an outdoor kitchen?
Your mind may be intoxicated with the late-summer weather right now, but don’t forget to think about how you will use your outdoor kitchen area throughout the rest of the year. Year-round usage will require protection from both cooler and warmer weather. Consider adding a shade structure such as a pergola, umbrellas or a permanent roof to cover from rain or harsh summer sunlight.
“The ideal place for kitchens is below an existing deck,” says Norm Shafer with Duradek of Georgia. “However, the most common deck is made of wood with space between the boards; when it rains, water will leak through below the deck.”
Though there are many different ways to waterproof an underdeck area, Shafer points to Duradek’s 60 mil vinyl decking membrane, which waterproofs the deck itself. And to waterproof the below-deck kitchen area’s floor, Duradek offers Tiledek, a waterproofing membrane specifically designed for exterior tile assemblies.
“Far too often, homeowners forget that there are real risks associated with grilling,” say the pros at Fiberon. When cooking on a deck (whether the deck is made of wood, a composite material or PVC), they recommend using a deck protector or grill pad underneath to help protect from grease, ash and other spills that will compromise the look and feel of the deck. A mat without rubber backing is recommended because, over time, the rubber will cause fading and moisture issues.
As with any indoor space, the plumbing, electrical and gas lines need to be planned for and installed prior to the construction of a patio—otherwise, it will be difficult and costly to retrofit. Also, if you’re planning to install a roof overhead, pre-wiring it for ceiling fans and recessed lights is less expensive than wiring it after or during installation.
What’s Your View?
Where should your outdoor kitchen go? Think not only of its proximity to your home, but also of the kitchen’s positioning in the space, capitalizing on the views you want to have.
Plan youroutdoor kitchen
Define Your Needs
Fill out this quick questionnaire to decide the design of your outdoor kitchen.
What are the dimensions of the space you have to build an outdoor kitchen?
_____’ ______” x _____’ ______”
How many people, on average, would you like to entertain with your outdoor kitchen?
What kind of cook are you?
Serious chef: I take my time to prepare multi-course meals
Semi-serious chef: I don’t have a lot of time, but when I do, I like to prepare larger meals
Casual cook: I prefer to spend more time eating the food than making it
Describe the views offered by your outdoor space:
What features would you like your outdoor kitchen to have?
Built-in grill with countertops
Big Green Egg (or similar appliance)
Wood-fired pizza oven
Stainless steel pizza oven
Drop-in cooler (to hold ice and drinks)
Coyote Outdoor Living | CoyoteOutdoor.com
Duradek of Georgia | Duradekga.com
Fiberon | FiberonDecking.com
Gensun Casual Living | whttp://www.GensunCasual.com
Weber-Stephen Products LLC | Weber.com