What’s your outdoor cooking style?
If you love nothing more than cooking for a crowd, you’ll need to ensure your barbecue is suitably large.
“How many people you need to cook for is an important question, ” said Anna Gervasi, of Domayne. “If you load up a small barbecue, you will end up with stewed steak.”
Barbeques Galore’s Terry Clarke recommended a big, six-burner model with side burners and a convection hood, while Matt Lihou, of Australian Outdoor Kitchens, said pizza ovens were a great option for big groups.
“You are not restricted to cooking pizzas — they will do roasts, desserts and basically everything you cook in an oven well, ” he said.
And don’t forget about ample seating in the form of a generous outdoor setting, added Cameron Rist, from Bunnings.
THE APARTMENT DWELLER
Even if you have only a small courtyard or balcony, it’s still possible to have a great outdoor cooking set-up.
Mr Lihou said a rollout barbecue was a good option. “It can be moved out of the way and create extra room if not being used, ” he said.
Otherwise, look out for smaller models to suit compact spaces.
“Be aware also of gas-bottle regulations pertaining to high-rise living conditions, ” Mr Lihou added.
“Certain gas-bottle size restrictions usually apply — check with the State Government’s Energy Safety office if you’re unsure.”
To make the most of the available space, Mr Rist said furniture that doubled as storage — such as storage benches — was a must.
THE EVERYDAY OUTDOOR COOK
Do you dine outside more often than in? It may be worth considering a commercialgrade system, according to Ferguson Corporation’s Daniel Ferguson.
Stainless-steel was a must in these situations, he said. “Not only does a 10mm-thick stainless-steel hotplate look great, it provides a clean and non-porous surface.”
In addition to a topnotch barbecue, Mr Clarke said frequent outdoor cooks should think about a more complete set-up.
“This can incorporate an additional hotplate or side burner, a fridge and/or sink, ” he said. “This allows people to stay outside rather than going back and forth to the kitchen.”
Mr Lihou said refrigeration, dishwashing facilities, microwaves, deep-fryers, ice-makers and bins were other add-ons that could make alfresco cooking and dining easier. However, he cautioned against making an alfresco area just another room in your house with four walls, heating and air-conditioning.
“WA has one of the best climates in the country so you should aim to get the best out of an outdoor, open area for eight months of the year and really enjoy it.”
THE BUDGET CONSCIOUS
There are plenty of options for outdoor entertaining if you’re on a tight budget.
Mr Rist said a compact charcoal barbecue or even an unconventional option such as a mini-spit were affordable choices.
Whatever you choose, Mr Lihou said it was best to keep things simple and take care of your purchases to ensure they lasted.
“The outdoor kitchen starts with a barbecue, so buy the best one you can afford and then look after it, ” he said.
“If you clean your barbecue after each cooking session, it will dramatically extend its life and therefore its value.”
Want a serious set-up that you can take with you when it comes time to move on?
Mr Lihou recommended a modular unit, which gave the appearance of being built-in but could be moved.
While he suggested having a custom unit made, Mr Clarke said it was also possible to buy ready-made versions.
“Because it is modular, the set-up can be adjusted to suit different spaces and can be disassembled easily, ” he said.
Checklist: What to consider when looking to choose an outdoor set-up.
- Is the area exposed to the elements? Rust can be an issue in coastal locations and wind can blow furniture and accessories about, potentially causing a safety hazard. Will you require additional shade?
- How movable should your set-up be? Options range from fully built-in models running on mains gas, to freestanding kitchens and trolley barbecues.
- How many people do you normally entertain and what kind of food would you generally cook for them? Cooking a full meal will have very different requirements to a simple sausage sizzle.
- Is your space too enclosed? Check the State Government’s Energy Safety website (commerce.wa.gov.au/energysafety) to ensure your outdoor cooking area complies with safety regulations.
- Is your gas pressure strong enough for your chosen appliance? Have a qualified plumber check whether additional pressure is required.
Information supplied by Australian Outdoor Kitchens, Barbeques Galore, Bunnings and Domayne.
© The West Australian
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