Outdoor Kitchens: Past, Present, and Future

By Paulo Sabatini and Justin Venk

Since the beginning of humanity, cooking outdoors has evolved from the primary and only option of cooking, to a luxury as well of more of a social event in our culture. We will examine how outdoor cooking has changed over time and what the future holds for outdoor kitchens.

PAST

Barbecue is older than homo sapiens and is the oldest form of cooking. Homo Erectus was the first Barbecue Man.

It Is believed that the first time Home Erectus tasted cooked meat after investigating a forest fire that had trapped and burned animals. Homo Erectus could not resist the smell of melted fat and roasted meat and was immediately taken by the rich and different taste. After that time, man, fire, and meat began a lifelong love story. A relationship that continues today. Cooked meat helped those first Homo Erectus to evolve into the Homo Sapiens that we are today. Eating cooked meat gave us larger brain, agility, communication skill and so much more. The evolution of humans was largely because of learning how to cook.

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We evolved from just throwing the meat on the fire to inventing the grill during the Iron Age, to community outdoors kitchen in Rome. History is full of examples of the necessity to cook outside not only in built outdoor kitchens, but also wherever we travel. Wars, colonization, exploration, disaster, etc… That’s why humans liked to get together eat and socialize. Once technology was advanced enough to bring kitchen inside the house, outdoor kitchen remained as an activity for fun most often. People enjoy the social aspects of barbecuing outside with friends and family. The stick that hold the meat over the fire was used more than often.

Modern barbecue truly took off in the beginning of the 20th century with the invention of the charcoal briquet. The first barbecue stand was born in 1907 in Shelby County in Kansas City. In 1948, the first nationally barbecue sauce was introduced to the public and the Weber Kettle was born in 1951 giving the mobility barbecue needed to be anywhere.

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PRESENT

Today, outdoor kitchens are evolving from owning a simple grill on your patio, to full-blown kitchens that could replace the interior kitchen. Homeowners are demanding the conveniences of primary kitchens outside. There are now many companies that design and build custom outdoor kitchens that include everything from the grill, to refrigerators, sinks, and even pizza ovens. The advances in technology include weather tight cabinetry and weather resistant appliances.

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Mobility is a key feature to many grills and smokers these days. The ability to take your grill with you to the park or to a tailgate for a football game is a testament to the technology that has taken place in the BBQ market.

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The social aspects of outdoor cooking are still very prevalent today. People enjoy being outside and they enjoy eating together. So naturally outdoor kitchens and barbecuing hold a special meaning to our lives. It can be as simple as “it’s a nice day” to a BBQ celebrating to the Fourth of July. But there is no denying, “we love cooking and eating outside.”

FUTURE

Outdoor kitchens in the future will be vastly different from home to home and be determined by location, demographics, and space. Americans of all demographics are spending more time in their kitchens – and outdoor kitchens have become a natural extension of the trend toward home entertaining.  This holds particularly true for owners of luxury homes, who want to extend all aspects of entertaining to their outdoor spaces.

Luxury homes and apartments in the future will continue to bring more and more of the conveniences of modern kitchens outside. More and more homes are built with a patio or entertainment deck that becomes a well-integrated extension to the home’s interior living space. Dishwashers, microwaves, and even ovens will be common place outdoors. Technology will continue to develop to make these appliances weather resistant and more affordable.

On the other hand, people living in dense, urban communities will not have the luxury of owning their own outdoor space and will rely on shared outdoor spaces. There will be an emphasis on community gardens and kitchens that will bring neighbors together more often and back to the social gatherings of the past.

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Outdoor cooking began as a social activity and will be that way in the future as well, it just might differ depending on where you live and your social means. The future will bring many changes in outdoor kitchen technology and the how communities are set up, but the social aspect of outdoor cooking will always be there.

And one thing will always hold true:

What do we do when we get together? ————–We eat.

Sources:

“The Food Timeline: History Notes–Mesopotamia through Shakespeare.” The Food Timeline: History Notes–Mesopotamia through Shakespeare. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2013.

“A Brief History of Barbacue.” A Brief History of Barbacue. N.p., 03 July 2009. Web. 30 Apr. 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1908513,00.html

Marcus, Clare Cooper. (2003). Shared Outdoor Space and Community Life [Research and Debate]. Places, 15(2), 32. Retrieved from: http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/5jz7d921

“About.” Emerald Street Urban Farm. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2013.

“The Story Of Barbecue.” AmazingRibs. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2013.

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