UK BBQ Mag Spring 2017 - Page 66

Outdoor Kitchen Design

Amrit Row is an experienced Outdoor Kitchen designer, and has worked on many inspiring outdoor kitchen projects aacross the UK. Here he gives us the lowdown on how he got started, and some useful advice for those of us looking to build a kitchen in our garden.

Marcus and I have been sharing what we do on Facebook and Twitter for several years now so he very kindly asked me to say a few words about my business and share some design thoughts when building outdoor kitchens.
I got into the installation side around 2007/8 when I was a full time landscaper and had just moved out of London to near Bradford on Avon.
My early attempts at hand built pizza ovens were a bit unsophisticated and made all the mistakes that customers now regularly own up to when contacting me for advice- not really understanding the structure and process of cooking and how important it is to insulate well with enough mass in the oven to hold heat for long periods.
Fortunately I do learn quickly and when its your own business, failing to learn is the start of business failure so 8 years on and with several commercial brick oven installations behind me, I’m happy to pass on any installation tips with confidence so don’t be afraid to contact me with questions!
You could say I’m only the sum of what customers ask me to do and those customers in the main have been absurdly wealthy, having multi million pound houses built with all the latest style trends and really only touching the surface of what real wood-fired cooking is all about.
I’m stuck in it because, probably as you all know, the high quality products are expensive and when added together can cost tens of thousands of pounds. In the end I have to guarantee everything I do so I don’t have to keep going back to fix minor issues so although frustrating, specifying high end products is the only way to go- that’s the luxury market in a nutshell!
What I have learnt from all my work is that everything is scalable, products don’t have to be the most expensive to be successful and that most outdoor cooking now is easily achievable if you understand the process and what the products bring to the table.
I’ve been fairly humbled by what a lot of you share on social media and when it comes to my own cooking, I look to those with more experience for guidance and certainly a lot of you completely understand the cooking process from acid marinades ( partial ‘pre-cooking’) to curing ( losing or retaining moisture) and ageing ( again partially drying and natural bacterial breaking down of tissue).
Apart from the hand-built brick ovens, I now distribute a French made ( I know already what you’re thinking but don’t go there) wood-fired oven from a company based in the Alsace, Four Grand-Mere. It pains me to say it but they are the best made oven I’ve come across and one I install for trouble free operation but compared to what’s on the market, they are a little pricier than most for the whole equipment package, mainly now because of the exchange rate.
When I first designed an outdoor kitchen, it was entirely client led and so its largely remained even though I do get to specify the products to go in it subject to budget. I’ve had clients who don’t think twice about having the best appliances and equally had clients who despite me specifying the most appropriate products, go for much cheaper options.
The trouble with all this is having to guarantee the performance over time. Cheap products just don’t do what you hope for because they are cheap for a reason. I’d like to think that you all have had that experience and regretted a purchase but of course I