It’s one of the truisms of the good life: food tastes so much better when it’s cooked outdoors. When Peter Briese installs an outdoor kitchen for clients, an in-person demo is offered as a delicious part of the package. The demo provides clients with the equipment and knowledge needed for when they want to prepare a full course feast for family and friends. It also shows off the versatile menu capabilities of the spectacular outdoor setups Muskoka BBQ and Outdoor Kitchen Centre is known for.
Peter loves to see his products in use and so he was delighted when a happy client invited him to come for a meal. Stepping into the space, the combination of smart design, fresh lake air, and the promising aromas of a flavourful meal to come is downright intoxicating. This is clearly Peter’s happy place, watching his outdoor kitchens in full swing.
“We’ve created multi-station kitchens for people who entertain larger groups on a regular basis,” he says, watching as the home cook assembles an assortment of shredded pork tacos on the EVO flattop for plancha style grilling. “We also work with clients who may want something smaller scale, but still want a very versatile set-up.”
The EVO is a much-requested option for many outdoor kitchens. The round, oil-seasoned steel surface can be used to sauté, braise, pan fry, steam, toast, poach, and of course, grill. “It has inner and outer cook zones,” Peter explains. The smoky-sweet aroma of pork, pineapple, and chiles is deliciously distracting. “You really widen your range of menu possibilities with that feature alone.”
As guests nibble juicy appetizers, Peter points out the astounding Fontana pizza oven. Tonight, however, this oven isn’t hosting woodfired pizzas, but veggies, roasted to perfection. A mouthwatering main is yet to be revealed at the next station. This cook’s tour is pure torture of the best kind. Everything smells like just one more bite and the vibe is pure elegant functionality.
“With a wood-fired oven, you’re not limited to pizza,” Peter explains, opening the sleek door. The aroma of sweet roast potato frites with rosemary and caramelized onion wafts out. “It absolutely excels at doing meats, veggies, breads, even desserts. And this line is built to last.”
This style of Fontana oven consumes five times less wood than a traditional ceramic pizza oven. It’s efficient, and even better, it’s also portable: the ideal pizza oven for outdoor kitchens that call for flexibility.
Ready for anything
Nearby, a massive fresh salad of bright local greens waits on the spacious Dekton countertop. Demonstrating one of the many perks of these fine countertops, Peter sets the hot pan of sweet potatoes down directly on the smooth compressed stone counter. No trivet, no protection needed. “Dekton countertops can handle it, which is why I love the product,” Peter says with a chuckle. “Busy cooks don’t need to be worried about that sort of thing.”
It’s not just the wear and tear a fast-moving chef might put on the countertops, either. Dekton countertops are first on the customer wish list for outdoor kitchen design because they’re not only high heat, abrasion, scratch, and stain resistant, they can withstand the elements, from snow and ice to the hot summer sun.
You know a kitchen is beautifully built when you find yourself nodding in passing appreciation at well-appointed fridges and discretely positioned prep sinks. Danver cabinetry enhances the elegance. The whole thing works like an orchestra, one that makes music for your mouth. Guests can observe the action as their dinner is created right in front of their eyes, while also allowing cooks to safely do their thing.
Two massive grills complete this pro-style kitchen. “Tonight, they’re doing marinated Argentinian flank steaks and lambchops on this one,” Peter says, gesturing toward a 42-inch built-in Hestan grill. “It’s also up for Kobe beef, Sunday roast chicken, bison burgers—all the favourites.”
This model has an abundance of features that make it a must-have, but the whisper-quiet rotisserie is one serious bonus. And motion-activated under-hood lighting that lights up the entire cooking area means you can grill into the wee hours. Guests will be in love even before they take a single bite of the steak, now drizzled with a garlicky Chimichurri sauce.
Grill number two is a 36-inch Hestan ready to handle the fish and seafood items on tonight’s menu. Jumbo shrimp skewers line one side of the grill-top; salmon roulades the other. Two dedicated grills allow for separate grilling stations, ideal for busy chefs with multiple menu items and for hosts catering to specialized dietary requirements. Swap out the fish or meat items for rows of crispy grilled sweet corn and veggies, for example.
“What I love is the ability to create the kitchen configuration each customer envisions, no matter what the scale,” says Peter as we all sit down to feast under the stars. “Whether they have multiple cooking areas around their properties or something a bit more intimate and focused, we’re passionate about making it happen.” Cheers to outdoor dining at the cottage in beautiful Muskoka.
TEXT MARNIE WOODROW | PHOTOS SCOTT TURNBULL