Eating outside is one of the best things about summer – if it’s ever warm enough – but increasingly, now it’s also about cooking outside, too. Hot on the heels of the “outdoor room” with its lounge-style furniture, outdoor cushions and twinkling lanterns, comes the outdoor kitchen – not just a barbecue, but stoves, grills, ovens and even sinks, all specifically designed for your garden. Maybe global warming isn’t all bad, after all?
It’s no surprise that Orange County is the spiritual home of al fresco eating, with its year-round warmth. California brand Lynx design bespoke outdoor kitchens tat include five different sized grills, burners, griddle plates, smoker boxes and warming drawers, as well as cocktail stations (of course!), outdoor fridges and ice machines, and worktops, tailored to your space and lifestyle.
The original California Grill, that Lynx has been producing for 30 years, offers professional cooking and grilling for your garden.
Prices from £2860, 01275 343 000, www.lynx-grills.co.uk
Morso outdoor fireplace
Combining Danish design with clean, cast-iron lines, this stylish outdoor stove is sure to be a crowd-pleaser at al fresco dinner parties. It functions both as a warming outdoor fireplace and also as an outdoor Tuscan Grill for perfect barbecued food. The fire itself can be turned according to the wind direction, while the tall chimney means your clothes won’t smell of camp-fire smoke in the way that fire pits do.
Morso Kamino fire £999 and Tuscan grill £90, www.morsoliving.co.uk
Esse Fire Stone
This British-made, steel, cast-iron and brick, wood-fired oven is a heavy-duty piece of kit, cooking at temperatures up to 550c, but it also looks good enough to adorn even the most glamorous patio or deck. It cooks pizzas in just two minutes, but you can also use it for baking, roasting, braising and char-grilling.
In fact, Esse – who have been making stoves since 1854 – asked two Michelin-starred chefs and River Cottage’s Gill Meller to test it out before they launched, so there’s no excuse for burning the burgers. £1800, www.esse.com
After years of clients asking for bespoke outdoor kitchens, Gaze Burvill launched its modular A la Carte kitchen range two years ago, and sales are soaring, despite a starting price of more than £2,000. Four different cabinets contain a sink, Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances (a favourite oven with top chefs, including Aldo Zilli), a fridge and a warming drawer – which, as all Bake Off fans will know, is essential for proving your bread dough. www.gazeburvill.com
This futuristic outdoor oven is a thing of Scandinavian beauty – and it cooks a mean supper, too. Inside, the wide, low-ceilinged oven is shaped like an Italian stone oven and has plenty of space to push the firewood aside when it comes to cooking.
On the stone you can bake bread, pizza or slow-cook joints of meat. Add the Tuscan Grill into the oven and you can chargrill steaks and veggies.
Morso forno, £1,620 (small £895), www.woodburners.co.uk
Big Green Egg
Yes, it looks like a huge hand grenade but this dome-lidded clay oven is actually a kamado – a Japanese stove where you can cook on direct heat, or indirectly using the deflector. You can also adjust the heat from 400c to 100c by releasing heat through a vent in the lid.
Think of it as an outdoor Aga, perfect for slow-cooking and roasting, but also for searing and crisping pizzas – serious al fresco chefs will love it.
From £750, www.johnlewis.com
Create a fully-designed outdoor kitchen around seriously smart barbecues, incorporating sinks, fridges, grills, ovens and worktops – they can even build an enclosure around it to compensate for the British summer.
The stainless steel, American-made Aurora A430 barbecue (it feels demeaning to even call it a barbecue) comes with four burners, a rotisserie kit and a back burner as well as a built-in digital thermometer, and can be built into an outdoor kitchen from £2,999. www.fire-magic.co.uk
Weber Smokey Mountain
Want to create authentic pulled pork or smokey southern-style ribs? Then you’ll need a smoker, aka the hipster bbq, which adds more flavour to a traditional barbecue and cooks red meat, chicken and fish low and slow for juicy meat that falls off the bone, and it can also be used for hot smoking.
From £299, www.weberbbq.co.uk
The EcoGrill All Natural Barbecue by Eco Consumer Products is made from sustainably sourced, hollowed-out alder, and is designed to prolong the burning time of the charcoal. The disposable barbecue and fire pit burns away to nothing, leaving no waste.
This article first appeared in Metro on 4 August.