Raising the steaks
Andrew Embley with his outdoor kitchen

With footy season over for another year, West Coast Eagle Andrew Embley has more time on his hands to indulge in his other great love in life, cooking.

Whether assisting the chefs once a week at Beluga, the seafood restaurant he co-owns with teammate Dean Cox in Claremont, or cooking in his indoor or outdoor kitchen for his young family and teammates ("the boys enjoy coming over as they know they'll get a good feed"), Embley said his passion for food stemmed back to his childhood.

"Not many people know this about me but I have a Burmese background and we always used to have big family banquets so that's where my love of food started," Embley, who also does in-store cooking demonstrations as the face of Retravision cooking, said.

It's no wonder then that he had the most design input into the kitchens when it came time to gut and remodel the family's early-1900s bungalow in Swanbourne about three years ago.

Overlooking a pool, the big entertaining deck with a fully-equipped outdoor kitchen is an extension of the stylish yet child-friendly kitchen-living-dining room and is just the spot to whip up a meal for wife Rayne and children Autumn, 3, and Lux, 16 months.

Custom-made by Ferguson Corporation, the big stainless-steel kitchen features a grill plate, teppanyaki plate, big wok burner, built-in Weber barbecue, bain-maries, storage and the obligatory bar fridge. It is also in good viewing position of the big screen TV in the lounge.

"I'm really into cooking slow-cooked meats in the Weber at the moment," Embley said.

Chances are if he's at home and the sun's shining, you'll find WA Nationals leader Brendon Grylls manning his outdoor kitchen, cooking up a storm for his wife, Susan, and their children.

With three sons under six, he said cooking outdoors was vital, not only to keep the mess out of his renovated 1930s character home but to let Thomas, Oliver and Jack burn up their endless supply of energy.

"I grew up on a farm and often lament the fact that our boys aren't, so we try and be outdoors as much as we can to tire them out," Mr Grylls said.

A raised Mediterranean-feel alfresco area with Boston ivy-covered stone pillars houses an eight-seater stone table and outdoor kitchen overlooking a pool, grassed area with a trampoline and manicured gardens — just the spot to unwind after a hard day at the office.

Taking pride of place is Mr Grylls' ultimate cooking appliance, a fully plumbed, stainless-steel Grand Hall outdoor kitchen comprising modular components built to fit an L-shaped space.

Included in the set-up is a five-burner barbecue with cast-iron hotplates and a backburner, a teppanyaki grill and a sink as well as ample food preparation and storage space.

A bar fridge is conveniently located nearby.

"We initially bought a Kleenmaid outdoor kitchen but when the company went bust, the unit got stuck in the warehouse so we had to find an alternative that would fit the space and the connections we had plumbed for," Mr Grylls said.

"That hurdle put us back a couple of months."

Aside from the usual barbecue fare, Mr Grylls said he could whip up a mean fish and chips.

"I do bite-size pieces of deep-fried barramundi from the Kimberley and chips and it's a real crowd-pleaser," said Mr Grylls, who is quick to point out he chooses local produce wherever possible.

He'd like a pizza oven someday too, but for now, he's content with his barbie.

Cooking for a career has not dampened Chris Taylor's enthusiasm for whipping up meals for his family and friends in his down time, if his well-worn outdoor kitchen is anything to go by.

With a tandoori oven, high-speed wok burner and char grill and flat plates, the commercial-grade, custom-made outdoor kitchen is up for most cooking tasks, according to the Fraser's Restaurant executive chef.

He said while the Cookon kitchen was the basic commercial catering range, it worked really well, delivering plenty of heat fast.

"I'm not really worried about the look (of the kitchen) as long as it fits in with the area," he said.

"The kitchen is very casual and perfect for catching up with family and friends."

Mr Taylor said the tandoori oven, made of stainless steel with a marble top and a clay interior, was a star performer, especially when it came to lamb and chicken.

"It runs on coal, which gives the food a great flavour and I also love the theatre of cooking on skewers as it's a bit of fun," he said.

The wok burner and char-grill plates also received a good workout, Mr Taylor said.

"It could be wholesome burgers on the grill and chips cooked in the wok used as a fryer," he said.

"Or, char-grilled rib-eye, or another favourite is burning the eggplant for a baba ganoush."

The West Australian

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