Our gardening expert Tim Sykes of Gardenproud reveals the ways in which you can transform your humble garden into an alfresco foodies’ paradise for summer
So you adore entertaining your friends and relatives and turn your hand to the odd barbecue? Well, maybe now’s the time to take things more seriously outdoors and revolutionise the use of your terrace.
2020 saw a sea change in the way we relate to our gardens and outdoor spaces. For many of us it became a place of peace and wellbeing, but it got us thinking and now we are back to socialising it’s become a place to entertain.
Sales of outdoor kitchens are booming, while chefs are creating new gourmet recipes for you to serve up and impress the most discerning of foodies.
I recently invested in a Gozney Pizza Oven, Roccbox, only to find myself utilising its superb all-round heat to serve up delicious steak casseroles and roasted scallops during the winter! Yes you can make pizzas, but also a whole lot more with these amazing machines. The one to get, if you’ve got the cash, is The Dome, a professional grade outdoor pizza oven at £1799 – still a whole lot cheaper than many of its competitors. If you want to whet your appetite go to Gozney.com and check out the recipes. There are also some really helpful videos.
BBC Good Food, which I’m sure many of you Google for inspiration, have a whole plethora of great cooking ideas for outdoors. From Moroccan-style leg of lamb, to barbecued fennel with black olive dressing. There are some really tasty alfresco dining ideas if you’re seeking inspiration.
If you want more, I recommend Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge’s ‘Outdoor Cooking – The Ultimate Modern Barbecue Bible’. At £17 it’s a snip, what more could you want? Check it out on Amazon, or even better pop into Waterstones in Tunbridge Wells.
So with all this enthusiasm for getting out there how can we make that outdoor kitchen work well for you and integrate with your house and garden?
A well-planned outdoor kitchen will have areas for preparing food, cooking appliances and socialising with friends and family. Identical to your indoor kitchen, appliances and storage will define the scope and layout of the area, while your surfaces and lighting and any covering will help create the atmosphere, aesthetics and help extend the use of the kitchen beyond sunset.
A recent scheme we designed for a garden in St Albans incorporates a lounge, eating space, outdoor kitchen and wellness area in a new terrace that adjoins the kitchen and living rooms of the house. The client is a very keen cook, and here the outdoor kitchen augments the appliances indoors, so it all works in an integrated fashion. Here we were not seeking to replace or duplicate but incorporate appliances that will contribute fresh flavours and recipe ideas.
So, in planning any scheme think about this and you will spend your money wisely.
Even in the depths of winter the outdoor kitchen can be enjoyed and used as a cooking area to help create dishes that can be enjoyed indoors.
Our scheme in St Albans includes a bespoke pergola design that helps define the cooking and preparation area and incorporates focssed lighting. With this particular project the pergola is being made, but you can buy many designs off-the -shelf. One of the most dramatic comprehensively fitted options available is marketed by Renson Outdoor (Renson.net) You can enhance them with electric closing rooflines, integrated lighting and rainwater collection – even piped music!
Our outdoor kitchen area in a garden we designed in Tonbridge integrated with a kitchen garden area, so a series of raised beds bordering the entertaining area provide fresh ingredients for the cook. Visually it’s very appealing, and practically – well it’s just perfect. It may be worth building refreshingly different ideas like this into your plan.
Bespoke or modular?
You can create a bespoke kitchen to suit your garden design, or buy modular based products, such as Grillo (Grilloliving.com)
Grillo have a myriad of units that can be linked to each other to create different working and socialising spaces. They have just launched a bar addition, that encourages guests to mingle around the cooking area while the gastronomic extravaganza is being prepared.
Adding spaces could include comfy seating and firepits to help keep everybody cosy while they wait in anticipation.
I was recently introduced to The Outdoor Kitchen Collective, by my great friends at Corker Outdoor (theoutdoorkitchencollective.co.uk).
Funnily enough these guys are based in St Albans, although I have to confess we didn’t know of them when we created the design for our new terrace in the town! I’ll admit that it’s definitely worth a trip to gain inspiration. You can also see a wide range of cooking products in their showroom and weigh up the virtues of different layouts. Then armed with this new-found knowledge you can start planning your own space, working with your garden designer and landscaping company to integrate this within your overall scheme so that everything dovetails perfectly.
For further information about how to design, integrate and build an outdoor kitchen and terrace in your garden contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820.
What’s happening in the garden this February?
- Plan your new terrace and outdoor kitchen area for the summer!
- Plan out and sow early vegetables and salad products in propagators or your greenhouse in preparation for planting on
- Start sowing slow growing perennials and annuals under cover
- Top dress ornamental trees, shrubs and perennials with organic fertiliser
- If you haven’t completed it already, cut back overgrown hedges before they start to grow
- Order your summer flowering bulbs
- Look out for early flowering crocus, anemone and iris
- Enjoy the hellebores and winter jasmine!