The Call of the Wild

Outdoor kitchens a fast-rising Lowcountry trend

Planning an outdoor kitchen? Remember: Maintenance should play a significant role in the construction of your outdoor feast center, especially in the Lowcountry.From Frederick Law Olmsted’s manicured lawns to Alice Waters’ organic vegetable patch, the perfect American yard is constantly evolving. But, when it comes to entertaining, there is little doubt that the kitchen is the heart of a home. Why not merge the two and take your culinary adventures outside?

Advances in durable kitchen products coupled with inventive designs mean outdoor kitchens can be customized to fit individual preferences while being as functional as a cook’s most indispensible gadget. Imagine a pizza oven for your patio, or a bar that’ll let you mix martinis while watching a king-fisher at the end of the dock. But before you toss out your trusty charcoal kettle and rush into a sprawling outdoor cook station, here are some things to think about when planning your outdoor kitchen.

The Location

While it may be enticing to see that rarely used corner of your lot as the ideal spot for your outdoor kitchen, remember that kitchens really are the center of party happenings. Just as your kitchen is the crossroads of your home, your outdoor kitchen will become the main artery of your yard. Choose a location that will be open enough to accommodate onlookers wanting to find out the secret to your marinade, but not so far from the house that a trip for forgotten ingredient requires packing an overnight bag. Think about how the space will affect the flow from your home to yard, and between the distinct spaces within your yard. Also, be sure to contact your insurance company to find out what it will cover and what needs to be covered.

The Landscape

A glimmering streak of polished stainless steel across your sightline may give your yard a diner appeal, but it can also compromise the natural beauty of your  Lowcountry setting. Work with your contractor to identify materials and textures that work with your yard and your plantings. Design structures that complement the space. Make your outdoor kitchen a part of your yard, not an island in it.

Plantation-style homes in the Lowcountry offer luxurious spaces for outdoor kitchens, such as this covered estate patio.

The Menu

The options for your outdoor kitchen are endless. ous times of the year so that you’ll get the most use out of your space. Think you’ll be hosting the holidays outdoors? Make sure your oven is big enough for a roast, or that your turkey fryer has a home. Keep spirits, wine and beer out of direct sunlight. If you’ll be using your outdoor kitchen primarily for grilling, consider refrigeration to keep things like seafood cool right up to the time that it hits the cooking grate. Finally, if you’re a huge sports fan and don’t want to miss the game while waiting on your brisket, incorporate a tasteful flat screen TV.

The Upkeep

An outdoor kitchen can offer a tremendous opportunities for entertaining and for making the most of the weather of the Lowcountry. But it will also require a steadfast commitment to cleaning. Understand what it will take to keep your appliances running optimally before you install them. Study the correct cleaning products for all your surfaces. Search for any nooks and crannies in your kitchen’s plans and take the steps to eliminate things like spider dens before they become an issue.

David Jakubiak is the author of The Recession Kitchen blog, “Eating Well in Lean Times,” www.