The outdoor food preparation space can vary from a simple area of pavement where a portable grill is located to an elaborate space containing built-in appliances, counters, and storage. Regardless of the particular situation, there are several guidelines for the design of this space.
The location of the outside food preparation space is critical. It should be placed where it is convenient to the kitchen, indoor dining room, and outdoor dining space (Figure 2—42). The food preparation space needs to be relatively close to the outdoor dining space so food can be easily and quickly transported between the spaces. Ideally, circulation between these spaces should be direct, for it is very easy to trip when carrying food, plates, utensils, and so on. Another consideration for the location of the outdoor food preparation space is the direction of the prevailing wind. The food preparation space should be placed so that the wind carries the smoke from the cooking fire away from the other outdoor spaces and the house (Figure 2—43). Whether a portable grill or built-in appliances are used, there should be some counter space or a surface on which to place food and cooking utensils. This doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it does make cooking a lot easier. This surface works well when it is about 36 inches above the ground (typical counter height) and 24 inches deep (typical counter depth).
The outdoor food preparation space should be conveniently located near the dining room, kitchen, and outdoor eating space.
The grill should be located so that smoke is blown away from outdoor living and eating spaces.
Because fire in a grill or fireplace is an integral part of most outdoor food preparation spaces, it is necessary to keep its presence in mind. Branches of nearby trees should be kept some distance from the grill so that the generated heat doesn’t burn any leaves above. And of course, wood surfaces should not be placed too close to the fire source.
The outdoor food preparation space should be studied carefully so that it fits into the overall design and works efficiently yet looks intentional and thought out. Too often, this space is simply left to occur wherever it may without much forethought and consideration. If well planned, it can add to the overall design rather than detract from it.