Wretched excess comes to the summer kitchen

Alfresco Open Air Culinary Systems
© Alfresco Open Air Culinary Systems

Cooking outside in summer makes a lot of sense. Who needs a hot stove making the house hotter or fighting the air conditioning? 150 years ago many people had summer kitchens; stoves took forever to heat up and cool down and if you could afford it, you moved it to a separate building outside the main house.

LAMA/Promo image

Post World War II, the summer suburban thing to do was to barbecue; It became such a big deal that companies like General Electric jumped into the game with appliances like their Partio. It had a range, oven, rotisserie and charcoal BBQ. President Dwight Eisenhower had one in Palm Springs and called it "the most fantastic thing you ever saw." He was President and didn't want for much, but that was all he needed.

© Linx Grills

Not anymore. The Partio is laughable compared to what the Palm Springs set do today. According to the Wall Street Journal, Growing numbers of upscale homeowners are installing elaborate grills in their backyards to create ‘outdoor kitchens’

Tricking out one’s outdoor kitchen adds up. People typically spend around $15,000, but that cost easily rises to $100,000 for a larger project with amenities like a built-in pizza oven, kegerator and weatherproof pantry unit.

It's not just a Fred Flintstone guy thing anymore.

As built-in barbecues become big-ticket purchases, female shoppers have also been drawn into what was a “good ol’ boy industry,” says Jim Buch, CEO of Lynx Grills. “Guys care about the gauge of the steel and how hot the grill will get, whereas women care about the elegance of the product, safety features and how long it will last.”

© Alfresco Open Air Culinary Systems

Some of them look insanely elaborate like the one at the top of the post or this one from Alfresco Open Air Culinary Systems. On their website they show plans and photos of some of their work and it looks more like a restaurant kitchen than a home barbecue. But hey, at least they are outside and saving on air conditioning costs.

WWOO/Promo image

There are other ways to cook outside without being in the .001%. I will admit that I have always admired the European version from WWOO as being a really nice bit of design. They also cost a fortune but don't try to bring an entire indoor kitchen outside. More: WWOO Outdoor Kitchen Is Truly A Wow!

© Fabio Galeazzo

But there has to be a better way that doesn't involve having two of everything, an indoor and an outdoor. Surely you can do it with design. Fabio Galeazzo tried it in Sao Paulo with this kitchen that pivots around a post from inside to outside, in one of my favorite houses.

© Peter Bennetts

Australian architect Andrew Maynard does it best- through good design, as he blurs the line between inside and outside. You don't know where one starts and the other ends.

Palm Springs Life/via

I suppose that come the revolution or the next Great Recession, an outdoor kitchen will be useful for feeding all the people occupying the back yard. But otherwise it all seems a bit much for a barbecue. If Ike were still around I suspect he would be complaining to Mamie about the kitchen-industrial complex.

Tags: Kitchens | Wretched Excess

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