The Garden Chef: Outdoor dining ideas

Garden Chef

If there are many among you Garden chefs who didn’t eat outside or BBQ’d outdoors in the glorious sunshine of the last Bank Holiday, I will eat more than my slightly raw in the middle and burnt on the outside hat. There’s nothing quite like making the most of the rare warmth and sunshine in the UK and using your outdoor garden furniture to the full – it just puts people in a good mood. Outdoor dining allows you to invite more friends than will usually fit around your dining table. Neither do you have to worry what the ketchup is landing on when it drips out of the bottom of a loosely held child’s hotdog and hand held food cuts down on the washing up. Al Fresco BBQ’s are great and food tastes much better when cooked on them – whether it’s the effect of the charcoal taste or just the eating outside at your garden furniture, there’s definitely something a bit special about it!

Taking outdoor table ideas to the next level

A big current trend is to leave your trusty old BBQ where it lives for most of the year – in the shed. While it has given great service over the years, BBQs are now being whipped up into something special by being integrated into a full on kitchen garden. This not only gives you space to BBQ in style, but also prep surfaces, other cooking devices and even sinks. Sound like something your cheffy self could get excited about? Here are some ideas on how to turn your outdoor dining furniture into a garden galley that even Gordon Ramsay would be proud of.  

  1. Location – where are you going to set up? It’s important to consider things such as route from the inside kitchen to the outside kitchen; if you want the smoke from the BBQ getting too close to your home or creating a fire risk; if you are intending to cook alone and bring the food to the dining area or if you want to integrate the two to stay social while you cook. If you’re planning on installing an outdoor sink, a cheaper option can be to make sure that one wall of your garden kitchen is in line with the external wall of your inside kitchen so that water can be sourced from there rather than running new pipes. If you’re not sure where to put it, why not look at a kitchen island which combines storage, preparation space and a cooking device all in one but which can be moved to the outdoor dining furniture location of your choice as and when you desire.
  2. Budget – quite an important one, and can be the difference between investing in a proper all-singing kitchen area, or one that you create yourself out of reclaimed pallets, bricks or other hardy materials. While it can be easy to simply buy the units, it can be a lot more satisfying to create it yourself, as well as ensuring that it meets your requirements perfectly.
  3. Cook – what are you going to cook? If you’re happy just to grill, then integrate your BBQ into the kitchen on its own – useful if you’re limited on space and can also be a very cost effective way of creating your outdoor cooking space with a pre-made unit.  If you want to really impress, add in a pizza oven or even a side burner for that paella you just knocked up to your outside table ideas list. We even thought “If you have a good supply of kippers, how about your own smoker”?
  4. Storage – if you are going to bring your ingredients and tools in from the kitchen as and when you need them, you don’t need to worry about this part (but please refer to point 1 about being able to easily navigate from the indoor kitchen to the outdoor kitchen!). Hooks in the external walls can make easily reachable utensil storage while cupboard space under worktops, integrated fridges…all can be planned into your space and ensure that none is wasted. Make sure that any fridges are, however, suitable for outdoor dining use.
  5. Shelter – with more cool days than hot in this country, it makes sense to plan for using your garden kitchen on those colder days as well. Shelter can be provided simply with allowing space for a parasol, but also look at awnings or canopies, both of which can be decorated with strings of lights for ambience once the night draws in. Allowing space for a firepit can also make sure that your guests don’t look longingly at your living room when the temperature drops.
  6. Materials – open to the seasons, make sure that all materials used in the construction of your kitchen are up to being battered. Concrete is strong and very on trend, as are dark woods and marble – although these can take the construction into the next price bracket. Try to use sustainable sources where possible as well as ensuring that materials are heat, UV and waterproof so that they last more than one wet summer! Don’t forget to look at our Ironfire Garden furniture for outdoor dining range!
  7. Light – don’t make my mistake of BBQ’ing in the dark and then serving your guests raw chicken at a birthday party (luckily no-one was poorly but then the gin probably killed off any nasties). Make sure that you have plenty of light for both your cooking and so that you can carry on the party into the night. Whether you choose to install electric lights if you don’t plan on having a portable kitchen, or solar lights if you are moving your kitchen around the garden, they will make sure that your chicken is cooked and the kissing is saved for bedtime!

We hope that the above tips help empower the garden chef in you

But if its not enough there are some great ideas on www.landscaping.co.uk who also offer a full planning and installation service. Most of all, make sure that it is somewhere that you can enjoy and relax, and impress your guests by cooking in a way that they will be green with envy at (just not green with food poisoning – if you’re not sure about this, just stick to vegetarian options!).