In Southern California, a homeowner could almost make the argument that an outdoor dishwasher is not a spectacular luxury.
Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet, a high-end outdoor kitchen equipment company, introduced what it says is the first dishwasher designed for outdoor kitchens at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas last month. It costs $4,990.
The company sees the outdoor kitchen as the place to be, not just a spot for an occasional party.
“We want you to be able to use this as a primary kitchen,” said Russ Faulk, Kalamazoo’s vice president of product development.
“If I am cooking, I am cooking outdoors,” said Faulk, who has a grill and a pizza oven outside his suburban Chicago home. “When you cook outdoors, it takes the drudgery out of cooking.”
He’s clearly a man in the right job.
“I’ve always loved to cook. One of my favorite things growing up was Sunday dinner after church, and we always fired up the grill for it,” Faulk said. “At 13, my dad started letting me do that. I was so proud.”
In the winter, he said, his grill acts as his “outdoor space heater.”
The outdoor dishwasher is enclosed in a stainless-steel box to protect the electronics, and the hoses are made so as not to degrade in the outdoors and not to appeal to squirrels and other critters. Some hoses contain peanut oil, which attracts animals, Faulk said.
The dishwasher was made so that it can be winterized; water can be cleared out with a push of a button, Faulk said.
“We are Midwesterners, so we make sure everything can withstand the elements,” he said.
Kalamazoo also makes a grill that can use charcoal, wood and gas. Its other products include pizza ovens, refrigerators and cabinets.
Outdoor kitchens remain popular, despite the uncertain economy. Los Angeles designer Lory Johansson said she has one client who is installing a deep fryer and others have put in a beer tap. Pizza ovens “are still the groovy thing,” which despite the name can be used to roast chicken, fish and other foods, Johansson said.
The StandPoint market research firm estimated in 2006 that 1 million new homes had outdoor kitchens that included a grill, refrigerator, sink and storage. Such kitchens may cost less than $10,000, but Faulk said $100,000 outdoor kitchens are not uncommon.
— Mary MacVean