Waterfront: July 2007 - If You Can't Stand The Heat . . .

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If You Can't Stand The Heat . . .

Take the kitchen outside.

AQUA spotted some familiar faces in a recent HGTV show titled "Sizzling Outdoor Kitchens," which featured, as the program called them, the top 10 outdoor kitchens in America. The show focused on families that have gone all out to enjoy their two biggest passions — cooking and the great outdoors. A few of these backyard oases also have pools.

According to the show, the sixth best outdoor kitchen in America was designed by Paul Benedetti, vice president and principal of Aquatic Technology in Morgan Hill, Calif. This outdoor Italian kitchen on an authentic Tuscan-style estate in Los Gatos boasts a grill with 60 inches of cooking power, complete with four burners, an infrared burner, a rotisserie and a compact-but-powerful built-in smoker. The kitchen's authentic wood-fired Viloriani pizza oven was shipped piece by piece straight from Naples. The specialized clay structure is extremely efficient at retaining heat, and the homeowners use it to cook not only pizza, but also vegetables, potatoes and even steaks. For this 18-month project, which also has a pool, spa and concrete water rills, Benedetti says, "Thousands of square feet of field-cut Arizona flagstone were installed. Each piece was cut and trimmed to fit the adjoining piece — like a reverse jigsaw puzzle — as they didn't want any joint wider that a half inch."

The show's fourth most sizzling outdoor kitchen was designed and built by The Green Scene in Calabasas, Calif. The kitchen, which has a double wood smoker, a 42-inch, six-burner rotisserie grill, a compact countertop ice maker, a refrigerator and a fully stocked stainless-steel cocktail bar, is just the beginning of this backyard retreat. Guests can take a dip in the pool to cool off, or they can relax in the custom spa adjacent to the bar. Fiber-optic lights run through the countertops for evening gatherings. There's even an outdoor living room beyond the pool with a fireplace. The path to this space is special as well — it's a series of stepping stones in a second, smaller pool.

Skip Phillips' own multi-level outdoor kitchen is the program's third most sizzling outdoor kitchen. The owner of Questar Pools, Phillips has a kitchen with side-by-side compact grills integrated into the countertop. One is powered by gas for quick cooking jobs and the other by charcoal to get that slow, flamed-broiled flavor. There's also a sink, a built-in ice chest, and just down the stairs is an imported Greek pizza oven with its own seating area. Behind the kitchen is a second seating area, complete with a woodburning fireplace and one spectacular view. In the center of it all is Phillips' vanishing-edge pool with a swim-up bar connected to the kitchen.

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