Chef Michael Symon’s Ultimate Outdoor Kitchen Checklist

outdoor chef

As spring approaches, we’re ready to dust off the grill, set the table and dine alfresco. And no one does that better than James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef Michael Symon.

This year, he’s teaming up with Frontgate to bring you exclusive tips and expert insight to optimize your outdoor kitchen and make your backyard the new destination of choice. So, before you fire up that barbecue or toss the perfect summer salad, Cleveland-born Chef Symon shares his ultimate outdoor kitchen checklist so you can make sure your space is not only stylish, but also functional.

“Make sure to keep the distance between your prep area and your cook surface under 3 feet.”

Whether you’re cooking on a grill, on a stove top or even in an outdoor pizza oven, being close to the heat allows easy access to your cook surface so that your food can go from prepped to plated seamlessly. Having one designated area to monitor also helps keep you and your guests safe and eliminates the need to navigate the kitchen with hot items.

food prep

“Your prep area should be directly in front of your cooking surface.”

Having a clear sight line when cooking makes all the difference. Setting up your prep area in front of, or adjacent to, your cooking surface provides the ultimate functionality. Consider a modular kitchen to provide the greatest flexibility for your unique layout and cooking style.

“Ideally, you want to have at least 24–36 inches of counter space.”

No one wants to deal with the hassle and time spent running back and forth from the indoor kitchen to the outdoor one because you ran out of prep space. To ensure you have plenty of room for chopping, slicing and dicing, Chef Symon recommends investing in at least 2 feet of quality counter space. Make sure to also consider the material of that prep space – selecting a scratch-resistant surface is going to provide greater usable space for all your meal preparation needs.

counter edge

“Have a sink within 3 to 4 feet of your cooking surface.”

In case you haven’t already picked up on the theme … proximity is key. While not essential, having easy access to a water source can be invaluable. An outdoor sink eliminates the need to run inside to rinse your vegetables or fill a pot, aiding in the prep and cleanup process.

“It’s crucial to have plenty of pots and pans storage.”

Having designated sets of outdoor cookery is great – having them stored right where you need them is even better. While it’s easy to get caught up in the appliances, investing in an outdoor kitchen that includes flexible storage options is just as important. Confidently stow pots, pans and cooking utensils right at your fingertips. You can also use outdoor storage cabinets for dinnerware, shatterproof glassware and serving platters. Bon appétit!

outdoor storage

Learn more about our Outdoor Kitchen Collection and exclusive partnership with Chef Michael Symon, including tips, tricks and recipes to help you step outside in style.