Things You'll Need
Grill or cooking equipment
Outdoor cooking requires basic precautions for the safety of the chef and guests. Since preparing food outdoors almost always involves grilling, heat and fire are the main safety issues. Perhaps a special occasion prompts meal preparation in a gazebo, or maybe it's just raining the day of the big cookout. Cooking under a gazebo presents special considerations since the fire will be near flammable materials and people will likely be crowded together more than if they were milling around on a patio, deck or the backyard.
Place the grill or any cooking equipment that will give off heat at least 3 feet from the walls of the gazebo structure. A gas or charcoal grill, for example, will warp vinyl and discolor painted wood or metal in a matter of minutes if placed too close to these materials. Setting the grill against the gazebo is likely to start a fire and could cause significant damage to the structure.
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Arrange side tables holding cooking supplies, such as saucepans and spices, on either side of the cooking appliance or grill. These can bet set against the gazebo rails to create a buffer zone on both sides of the grill.
Place a table a few feet in front of the grill so the chef can stand in front of the grill but guests cannot accidentally bump into the chef or jostle against the grill. This handy barrier can be useful with large crowds where alcoholic drinks are flowing freely. Use the table to set finished foods hot off the grill on a platter so a helper can transfer them to the serving tables.
Choose a menu less likely to cause smoke and flare-ups on the grill. For example, steaks, chops and hamburgers cook quickly with minimal smoking, especially if lean cuts are used, but chicken and pork can easily cause flare-ups from melting fat on the fire. The roiling smoke that collects under the gazebo will choke chef and guests alike.
Cook foods over medium to low temperatures to prevent an excessive heat build-up that will send guests scurrying to the relatively greater comfort of the yard, even on hot summer days.
Set serving tables opposite the cooking area so guests can prepare their plates with food away from the heat of the outdoor kitchen.