Summer is almost here; time to get ready for outdoor cooking
With winter behind us, and spring finally here, we can all feel summer approaching fast! At last, we can enjoy the sunny outdoors!
With nice weather comes BBQ season, and who doesn’t love to barbeque on a nice hot summer day? I know that I certainly do! Instead of working in a hot sweaty kitchen, it’s nice to fire up the grill and get some char going. Hamburgers, steaks, and grilled corn are all classic summer foods that can be easily enjoyed! Even a grilled hot dog or smokie hits the spot for a quick summertime lunch! And that’s just a few summer foods; there’s a plethora of other summer favourites that we all crave.
But not everything happens on the grill during a summer cookout; a lot of it happens on a countertop. Homemade burgers and summer salads call for a lot of prep work, and you need a large surface to work on unless you’re okay with a giant mess! Sure, you could go inside the kitchen to do this prep work, but that just seems like a waste of a precious summer day, doesn’t it? Why spend the day inside when you can be outside? Why avoid the sunshine?
A prep surface for outdoor cooking
One way to ensure you are soaking up the sunshine instead of sweating and working away inside your hot and humid indoor kitchen is to get an outdoor prep station that compliments your barbeque grill and allows you to move the kitchen outdoors! An outdoor prep kitchen is a self-contained kitchen that has everything you need; usually containing storage space and hidden perks, but its main feature is a large surface where you can easily prep all your outdoor meals with ease while enjoying the sunshine.
Sure you could spend thousands of dollars installing a fancy outdoor kitchen, complete with a sink, fridge, and dishwasher. If I had all the money in the world, I’d certainly invest in a quality outdoor kitchen, but that’s outside the budgets of most people and it is probably overkill for areas of the globe that are lucky to get a couple months of prime barbecuing weather. What you really need is a lightweight countertop that you can easily move around to match your summer BBQ setup, and one that can be stored away during the colder winter and autumn months; at least until you win the lottery and can afford that massive outdoor kitchen upgrade.
I recently was on the hunt for a solution to my outdoor cooking dilemma. I came across the Keter Unity XL Portable Outdoor Prep Station for a Patio Kitchen (also known as the Keter Unity XL Entertainment Storage Unit). The unit intrigued me because not only did it look great, it appeared to have more than enough countertop space in order for me to move my kitchen and prep work outside!
The Keter prep kitchen had many features that convinced me to add it to my cart and push the buy button. My favourite features of this outdoor prep kitchen were:
- It’s lightweight and features two wheels that make it easy to store the outdoor prep kitchen away in a shed or garage when not in use; alternatively you can play around with the configuration of your outdoor kitchen! Try placing the prep station right beside the BBQ for quick access to your prepped ingredients, or use the countertop as an outdoor patio island!
- A beautiful and stylish stainless steel surface supported by a durable weather-resistant resin structure
- Includes open space directly under the countertop surface to temporarily place prepped ingredients, plates, refreshments, and snacks until they are ready to be used!
- Lots of storage at the very bottom in a sealed area that will be protected from rain, snow, and dust
- A spice and condiment rack; there’s no need for bottles and jars to take up valuable counter space. Get them out of the way and get cooking!
- A convenient paper towel holder on one side to clean up spills and messes Hooks to hang all your favorite BBQ utensils on the other side
- It even comes with a handy bottle opener to crack open a cold one during your summer cookout!
The prep kitchen is spacious! It is 52.7” wide, 35.5” in height, and 20.5 inches in depth, giving you plenty of room to prep all your summer meals
Protect your outdoor prep kitchen from the rain, snow and dust
I bought a cover in order to protect my Keter XL BBQ cart from the rain and snow when not in use. In over one year of ownership, the countertop has not developed any rust; a problem that other reviewers have mentioned, so I wanted to avoid it. Mission accomplished.
Upgrade option: Smaller, but engineered for the outdoor chef
If you want an upgrade, consider the Everdure by Heston Blumenthal Mobile Prep Kitchen. It is considerably pricier but it appears to be engineered in clever ways to meet the needs of the outdoor cook. It isn’t quite as wide as the Keter (40” for the Everdure vs. 52.7” for the Keter), but where it lacks in size, it appears to make up in engineered convenience.
This mobile prep kitchen by Everdure includes seven dishwasher safe containers to keep your prepped food organized and separate. The containers slide right into slots on top of the counter top, making them easily accessible; perfect for your hamburger toppings or keeping your drinks chilled with ice. The prep kitchen even features slots on the countertop surface in order to store your knives. Everything appears to be within arms reach for both the cook and their guests!
On one side of the Everdure Mobile Prep Kitchen is a divided bin that pulls out in order to keep your recycling and compostables separate. There’s even a hole with a removable cover on top of the prep surface in order for you to easily dispose of your food scraps. Just use a knife to scrape them into the bin.
The storage area below the countertop surface of the Everdure pulls out making all your BBQ accessories easily accessible. There’s also hooks on the side to hang your favorite BBQ utensils.
The Everdure features an acacia wood top, which is perfect for an outdoor aesthetic. The doors are double-lined in order to protect the contents from harsh weather and dust.
Heston Blumenthal is a chef known for precision and perfection, and this mobile prep kitchen named after him is no different. Every part of it seems to be carefully engineered specifically for the outdoor chef!
Which outdoor prep kitchen is right for you?
As mentioned above, I’ve been extremely happy with my purchase of the Keter Unity XL BBQ and Storage Table with Stainless Steel Countertop. The unit is spacious, easy to wheel around, and it looks great! I don’t only use the mobile outdoor kitchen as a prep area, but also to bring my portable induction burners out onto the deck (see my review of the Breville PolyScience Control Freak if you are interested in precision cooking with a top-of-the-line induction burner; it’s pricey, but it revolutionized the way I cook). This is the perfect setup for deep frying as it’s safer outside and prevents your house from smelling like a greasy fast food joint! For me, the Keter outdoor BBQ station meets all my needs and definitely makes it easier and more enjoyable to cook outside!
If you have a tighter space, the Keter Unity BBQ Cart comes in a smaller size. While I haven’t used this particular model, I assume that it’s the same build quality as the XL, just smaller for condo and apartment balconies.
I’m not going to lie, the Everdure by Heston Blumenthal Mobile Prep Kitchen does intrigue me; I’m a sucker for carefully engineered products, especially when it comes to cooking! My overflowing kitchen cupboards of gadgets and tools is a testament to this! However, the price is a little intimidating and out of reach for the time being. I could see this mobile prep kitchen being useful for entertaining outdoors as all my guests would have easy access to hamburger toppings in order to customize their burger. However, I am a little worried about the lack of prep surface when compared to the Keter outdoor kitchen, especially at Everdure’s price point. I’m not entirely sure if all the engineering would make up for the smaller prep surface, but I would love to be proven wrong and try it out one day!
If you own the Everdure by Heston Blumenthal Mobile Prep Kitchen, let me know in the comments. I would love to hear your impressions of it! Is it worth it?