The Great Outdoors

Three open-air kitchens bring the inside out.

outdoor kitchen maui hawaii
“We’re outdoors people,” says Lee Gardner, “and we prefer to cook and eat in the fresh air. For me, there’s nothing better than hearing the laughter of friends and clinking glasses behind me when I’m standing at the stove, cooking.” The Gardners regularly grill burgers on the barbecue and prepare fish and turkey in the smoker but it’s the pizza oven that gets fired up the most. The dough—“we cheat,” laughs Lee—comes from Whole Foods; many of the toppings are grown on the Gardners’ property: basil, chives, fennel, rosemary, and figs from their trees. Patti concocts pizza recipes for visitors to try; these include a “dessert pizza” that Lee terms delicious, made with cream cheese, chocolate chips, strawberries and blueberries.

A DIY Kitchen, From a Homemade Recipe
Patti and Lee Gardner, Kula

When Patti Gardner took a trip to Arizona two years ago, she found a pair of surprises waiting for her when she came home to Maui: a brand-new puppy and an outdoor kitchen. Her husband Lee was the mastermind behind both. Bella the puppy, Lee says, was a somewhat spur-of- the-moment decision but the kitchen took some planning—even if the perfect location was evident from the start. At the rear of the Gardners’ hillside Kula home, there was a sloping section of lawn the couple had deemed wasted space. Lee took some measurements, sketched a design, and made a list of materials. Not surprisingly, stone was at the top of the list: He and Patti own Maui Marble & Granite in Wailuku.

He loaded up on building supplies and purchased a gas grill, a ceramic charcoal grill, and an Italian-made wood-fired pizza oven. Then he rolled up his sleeves and got to work. After leveling the site with concrete, he laid a marble patio and built foundations for the pizza oven and ceramic grill, which are finished with a stone veneer and topped with quartzite counters. Finishing touches included a round marbletop table that seats six. The night she returned home, Patti rounded up ingredients to make pizza, and though the first pie emerged from the oven charred, she quickly mastered the art. Now on any given day, the oven is in use; once lit, it can take up to three hours to reach the right temperature. But when you see Patti and Lee relaxing outside, a glass of wine in hand and the scent of kiawe smoke filling the air, it’s clear they don’t mind the wait.



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