Wood-Fired Cooking is Catching on Like Wildfire

Some Italian restaurants like Chicago’s legendary Spiaggia have been cooking with wood for decades. Why? Because that’s the way it’s done in the old country. And if you want that authentic old-world taste, cooking with wood is the way to go. It infuses each dish with a flavor you just can’t get any other way.

In more recent years, chefs across the country have embraced wood-fired cooking for anything from roasted root vegetables to grilled calamari. And brick oven pizza joints seem to be popping up all over town. You can smell the wood-fired ovens for blocks, drawing people in with the enticing aromas. With the continued trend of gourmet cooking at home, it was only a matter of time before wood-fired cooking would become the next outdoor living phenomenon. Enter the residential brick oven.

Several years ago, Belgard anticipated this trend and partnered with Chicago Brick Oven to create a line of brick ovens clad in Belgard hardscape products that would blend seamlessly with other Belgard product lines to create fabulous outdoor kitchens with the added option of a matching wood-fired brick oven.

SRA_STOCKTON_RES_BEL2015_Patio_OutdoorKitchen_MegaLafitt_BristolPizzaOven_001B_previewBristol Brick Oven

Constructed with Weston Stone® wall block and accents of Urbana® Stone pavers, the Bristol Brick Oven makes a statement and adds major flair to wood-fired cooking. With a built-in wood box and large capacity oven, the Bristol oven is the outdoor chef’s dream and coordinates with other pieces from the Belgard Elements Bristol Series, including a grill island, fireplace, and various modular outdoor bar and kitchen pieces. Color options include the warm tones of Gascony Tan (shown) and cool gray tones of Cotswold Mist.

NFD_E_RES_BEL2015_Patios_Steps_Walls_OutdoorKitchens_Urbana_MegaArbel_Bullnose_Celtik_MegaBergerac_BordeauxElements_MidnightCopingBordeaux Brick Oven

The Bordeaux Series of the Belgard Elements line offers a smaller footprint and is clad with the contemporary stacked-stone look of Lamina® Stone veneer. The Bordeaux Brick Oven also includes a built-in wood box and is trimmed with accents of polished Cordova Stone™, available in either the Midnight (shown) or Buff trim options. Other coordinating pieces from the Bordeaux Series include a grill island and a fireplace with optional matching wood boxes. Both the Bristol and Bordeaux ovens can include optional low-voltage hardscape lighting.

MLR_RES_BEL2014_Patios_OutdoorKitchens_Urbana_WestonWall_AnchorHighlandWall_BullnoseCoping_ChicagoBrickOven_001_previewCounter Top and Mobile Ovens

With four versions to choose from, the counter top brick oven can easily turn any outdoor kitchen into a gourmet cooking space without the time and expense of a full custom installation. The counter top oven is available in copper or silver finish with either a dome (shown) or pyramid roof line. Durable steel carts are also available to convert the counter top model into a portable oven that can be re-positioned as needed around your outdoor living space. Hybrid models are also available that allow cooking with either gas, wood, or a combination of both heat sources simultaneously.

TailgaterHero-e1412618458661Tailgater Brick Oven

Take your passion for wood-fired cooking on the road with Belgard’s towable Tailgater package, making it possible to take the unmatched experience of wood-fired cooking and entertaining to collegiate and professional football games, motorsport events, music concerts, festivals, and more. The Tailgater brick oven is available in both the wood-burning model and the hybrid gas/wood model .

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For more information, contact a local dealer or installer or visit the brick oven page on Belgard.com.

Build Custom Outdoor Kitchens and Fireplaces with Less Hassle


Custom outdoor kitchens and living rooms continue to gain in popularity all across the nation. The modular design of the Belgard Elements collection allows you to create a custom look in a fraction of the time and for significantly less cost than building from scratch on site. Couple that with the fact that homeowners can spread the cost out over time with Belgard Preferred Payment same-as-cash options, and designer outdoor living spaces suddenly become much more affordable for a wider range of homeowners.

Belgard Elements are built in a controlled factory setting and shipped in pieces on pallets and install in a matter of hours, once the footings are in place. Constructed with Belgard pavers and walls and coordinating Echelon Masonry, the Belgard Elements line blends seamlessly with Belgard patios and poolscapes to create beautifully cohesive outdoor living designs.

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But, don’t just take our word for it! See what contractors across the country are saying:

Clint Tucker, Sugar Hill Outdoors – Auburn, GA

“Belgard Elements are easy to move with a forklift. You pop two stones out, run the forklift under the base of the fireplace, or the log boxes, take them to where you created the footing, set it into place, and they’re ready to go. On one project, we installed a fireplace with matching woodboxes, a very nice grill island with a stainless steel grill, and a brick oven with a log box underneath. Had we done this with a more traditional masonry product, it would have taken close to a month. All of that would be out of most people’s price range if it was done in true masonry.”

John Brightenstine, The Paver Company – Rancho Cordova, CA

“Belgard Elements really add a wow factor. And because they’re made with Belgard products, they coordinate with other Belgard hardscapes to tie everything together.”

Andrew Vear, PaverCrafters – Reno, NV

“So often with a lot of custom construction projects, everything takes two weeks. Installing an Elements fireplace takes about two hours because the modules are prebuilt. It looks exactly as it does in the catalog. You just can’t build anything like that by hand. And, I don’t have to go shopping for any other materials. Everything that I need is right in the kit.”

Rod Trahan, La Pavers – New Orleans, LA

“Outdoor kitchens are gaining popularity in our area. The Elements line has the potential to go through the roof. It’s faster, safer and cheaper to install and ties in with the pavers. Building this project by hand would have taken at least three or four times longer. Plus this way, the customer knows exactly what they’re getting.”

For more on the benefits of Belgard Elements, check out our Belgard Elements Outdoor Kitchens blog.

The Ultimate Outdoor Kitchen

The Ultimate Outdoor Kitchen

Are you the ultimate backyard tailgater? If so, you need an ultimate outdoor kitchen to match. An outdoor kitchen that doesn’t just say you’re an occasional griller who has mastered burgers and dogs, but a grillmaster whose steaks are the perfect medium-rare, who has his own home brew on tap in the outdoor kegerator, and who isn’t afraid to sport his “King of the Grill” apron.

So what are the elements of an ultimate outdoor kitchen? Here a few of the pieces we’d put in ours:


Whether it’s gas or charcoal, there is one thing fans of both can agree on – it’s all about the grill. This outdoor kitchen MVP has the biggest job during your tailgate so make sure you invest in a grill that you will love for years to come.

Brick Oven

The grill’s lesser known sidekick is the brick oven. Slowly building up its stats as a player to watch, the brick oven is perfect for homemade pizzas, appetizers and anything else you want baked with that wood-fired taste.


Every great chef knows the importance of hand washing, especially when you’re handling raw meats. Running inside can be incredibly inconvenient. Install a sink in your outdoor kitchen to save time and trouble.

Mini Fridge

Remember those college dorm room days of grabbing sodas from the mini fridge? It was so nice to have a cold beverage right at your fingertips. Installing a mini fridge in your outdoor kitchen is just as useful, especially when you’re entertaining, because it’s also great for storing prepped foods and condiments.


Whether you’re a home brewer or just a fan of your local craft beer company, a kegerator makes enjoying a cold, refreshing beer easier than ever.

Bar Island

With cold beer on tap, you’re halfway there to making your outdoor kitchen your friends’ new favorite bar. A bar island creates the ideal gathering place to cheer on your favorite team.


Creating the ultimate outdoor kitchen and then ignoring lighting is like fumbling what could have been the game-winning touchdown. Consider overhead lighting for when overtime and the setting sun collide.

Ice Maker

The clutch player in our ultimate outdoor kitchen, the ice maker is always ready to go so your indoor freezer can take a knee.

Outdoor Kitchen Trends

Belgard Hardscapes - GMS

The popularity of the outdoor kitchen is undeniable. In many areas of the country, kitchens are becoming a standard element of the home design in new construction, particularly in median level homes and above, and can range from a simple built-in grill to full-scale gourmet kitchens that rival in quality and scale to the indoor kitchen. In fact, it’s not unusual in today’s outdoor living culture to spend more money on the construction of the outdoor kitchen than the indoor kitchen, considering that all of the building materials and appliances need to be sturdy enough to survive outdoor conditions, including moisture, harsh sunlight, and a wide range of critters.

In the continued evolution of this developing phenomenon, here are a few of today’s hottest outdoor kitchen trends:

Cooking SurfacesMultiple Cooking Surfaces

Outdoor entertaining is optimal for large groups because the very nature of the open setting allows for large numbers of people to gather without feeling crowded. However, entertaining large groups requires large amounts of food, which makes multiple cooking surfaces a must. Options can include both charcoal and gas grills, standard cooking burners, fryer burners, brick ovens, and even standard ovens. Many don’t consider including a brick oven due to the mistaken belief that brick ovens are only useful for cooking bread or pizza, however brick oven owners know that anything can be cooked in a brick oven that can be cooked in a standard oven. For brick oven recipe ideas, click here.

imageCreate Functional Zones

Outdoor kitchens with different functional zones allow for multiple cooking, prep, and entertaining activities to occur simultaneously. Today’s outdoor kitchens incorporate lots of counter space for food prep and serving, in addition to extra counter space for creating a communal environment so that the guests can visit with the hosts during food prep and cooking. One popular trend is to incorporate a multi-level counter top, with one level functioning as the prep area, and the higher level functioning as the serving surface or bar area.

imageLight the Way

In any kitchen, proper lighting is key to functionality. However, the modern outdoor kitchen needs to function as both a kitchen and an entertainment space. Popular lighting options include outdoor rated pendants, uplighting into the rafters, and under cabinet lights. Installing dimmer switches allows for brighter lighting during cooking and lower ambient light when the cooking is done. Also, low voltage lights installed directly onto the exterior of the cabinetry is a popular way to provide additional ambiance. Other trending lighting options include nearby fire features like outdoor fireplaces, fire pits, and fire tables. For other outdoor lighting ideas, click here.

imageCreature Comforts

The modern family is accustomed to being constantly plugged in. Naturally, this trend has moved outdoors. The trendy outdoor kitchen is fully equipped with all of the comforts of the home’s interior, including comfortable furniture, outdoor rated audio speakers, televisions, fans, gas heaters, wi-fi, and retractable solar screens for shielding guest during sunnier times of day. Specialty outdoor appliances are also rising in popularity, like kegerators, wine refrigerators, and bar style roll-top beverage coolers.

Product Spotlight: Brick Ovens

design3Nothing beats the flavor of wood-fired cooking. That’s why we’ve partnered with Chicago Brick Oven to offer a full line of brick ovens. Inspired by the ancient Italian wood-burning ovens first used over four thousand years ago, the secret to our ovens is our authentic, low-height dome design. The design creates a unique FlameRoll™, which generates high, even temperatures for balanced cooking and genuine wood-fired taste. Made from high-strength, cast-refractory materials, our ovens ensure long-lasting performance and reliability. All components are built in the USA and have been specifically designed to withstand North American climate extremes. With five different lines available, there’s a Belgard Brick Oven to fit any lifestyle, from compact urban spaces to expansive suburban backyards, and even a new model you take on the road.

Brick-Oven-ElementsBelgard Elements Oven
One of the modular options available in the Belgard Elements Collection, the Elements brick oven is pre-built in a factory and quickly installed on-site to offer the look of a custom installation for less time and expense. The Elements oven is available in three designer styles: Brighton Series, Bristol Series, and Wexford Series.

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Brick-Oven_Countertop_Pyramid_Copper-VeinCounter Top Ovens

With four versions to choose from, the counter top brick oven offers a small footprint and can easily turn any outdoor kitchen into a gourmet cooking space without the time and expense of a full custom installation. The counter top oven is available in copper or silver finish with either a pyramid (shown) or dome roof line.

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Brick-Oven-MobileMobile Oven

The perfect complement to an existing grill and patio, the mobile brick oven is available in two colors and two different styles and comes with a durable steel cart for portability around the backyard. Like the table top, the mobile oven is available with a silver or copper finish in either the dome (shown) or pyramid roof line.

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The hybrid oven is available in the Elements, table top, and mobile versions.

Hybrid Brick Oven

Our hybrid gas/wood brick oven allows you to cook with either gas, wood, or a combination of both heat sources simultaneously. The hybrid oven includes a two-burner gas system, with an infrared burner under the hearth and an ambient burner at the back of the hearth. Wood can also be burned at the back or side of the oven to provide smoky wood-fired flavor.

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Tailgater Brick Oven

Now, you can take your passion for wood-fired cooking on the road with our new towable Tailgater package, making it possible to take the unmatched experience of wood-fired cooking and entertaining to collegiate and professional football games, motorsport events, music concerts, festivals, and more. The Tailgater is currently available in the wood-burning model and will be available in the hybrid gas/wood model in 2015.

For more information, contact a local dealer or installer or visit the brick oven page on Belgard.com.

Memorial Day Grilling Tips & Ideas

The first thing that comes to mind when planning a Memorial Day get-together is the age-old query, “what are we going to eat?” Typical Memorial Day fare includes hamburgers and hot dogs fresh off the grill. This year, feel free to break tradition and grill up something new with some of these ideas:


Kebabs are a staple of grilling events, but have you tried any unconventional combinations of foods on your skewers? Here are some that are sure to deliver on flavor:

  • Peaches, pork, pineapple and sweet Vidalia onion
  • Pineapple, red bell pepper, chicken, and shredded coconut
  • Curry-marinated beef, zucchini, cherry tomato and potato
  • Eggplant, lemongrass tofu, yellow squash and cherry tomato

To make the most of your meats and vegetarian equivalents, you’ll need a good seasoning or rub to anchor the flavor so you don’t end up with a bunch of tasteless food sticks. For a good chicken and pork rub, try Rufus Teague’s Meat Rub. For any and everything, try Konriko’s Greek seasoning. There’s a world of flavor out there and there’s likely to be someone local with an online spice apothecary – and being able to buy local is always a plus.


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There’s a world of possibility out there when it comes to burgers. Entire restaurants have been dedicated to serving up dozens of types of burgers with a wide array of flavor infusions. To create something memorable this year, fold in a little bit of brown sugar to create a sweet and rich flavor. For a richer flavor, fold in minced garlic. Don’t go buck wild loading your burger with a lot of junk unless you want meatloaf.

Whatever you do, season your burger liberally and don’t add salt until the patties are formed. And once they’re on the grill, flip them as often as you’d like. It helps them cook faster and distribute flavor evenly. And once they’re done, be sure to have plenty of toppings set out so everyone can deck out their burger.


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Grilling Tips

You can use gas or charcoal to grill. Gas burns cleaner, but some people prefer the smoky flavor you get from grilling with charcoal. If you’re trying to stay environmentally friendly while entertaining, go with gas. If you want to be kind to the earth and still get that smoky flavor, you can just use additive-free lump charcoal (AKA charred wood), and don’t use lighter fluid.

Preheat your grill 15 to 25 minutes before you start cooking to make sure it reaches the right temperature (and to kill any lingering bacteria). If your grill is heated properly, it will sear foods on contact without drying it up or causing it to stick to the grill. Searing may not seal in the juices of whatever you put on the grill, but it causes them to caramelize, making the flavor rich and decadent. To reduce sticking, oil the grill rack when it’s hot with a vegetable oil-soaked paper towel.

Now for the fun part: cooking the marinated the meat. Marinades will drop some serious flavor bombs into your food. You need to make sure that the marinades are soaked in before you toss the meat on the grill or else you’ll get some fiery Pompeii-esque backsplash. Once they start to look done, use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature to make sure the meat is ready. If you are making kebabs and are worried about some of the pieces falling off the skewers and into the grill, put a grill basket below the grill rack to catch any runaway foods.


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For safety, keep a squirt bottle of water nearby to douse the flames of any flare-ups, since flare-ups resulting from dripping fats can compromise the flavor of the meats and also be a general nuisance.

When the meat is ready, let it sit on a platter for about ten minutes so the juice can distribute evenly and so you don’t burn your palette!

Party Time!

Now you’re ready to grill. Be sure to share some of your favorite foods to grill and let us know how your grilling adventures turn out!