Daniel Boulud's 3-Course Guide To A Perfect Summer Picnic

In the warmer months, nothing beats a relaxed lunch or dinner in a park or by the water. A picnic is one of those special meals that have all of the essential ingredients — a beautiful setting, good friends, and great food. For many, it's also a simple affair that might involve some drinks, crackers, and cheese. However, that's not the case for chef Daniel Boulud who turns the event into something spectacular. 

Part of transforming the casual outing is viewing it much like a trip to a high-end restaurant. Think about your picnic having a series of courses, much like a restaurant has to offer. For Boulud, the ideal picnic features appetizers, main dishes, and, of course, dessert. But with a picnic, these courses must be composed of dishes that are perfect for the outdoors and easy to eat. Boulud is such a fan of this type of outing that he even sold packed picnic baskets out of the Palm Beach, Florida, location of Cafe Boulud for a time.

The restaurateur's picnic suggestions

So how does a world-renowned chef start off a picnic? "I like to start with a little aperitif and a light snack," Boulud told Bon Appétit. A light snack could include anything simple to nibble on, such as crudité and dip along with nuts and French-style salami. Other good picnic starters could be hummus, marinated feta, olives, and pita bread, or an array of easy-to-eat fruits, such as watermelon slices, grapes, and berries. 

For the main course, Boulud is a fan of roasted chicken. He also likes salads made from hardy vegetables, such as asparagus, green beans, or beets. But perhaps one of the simplest ways to go is to offer your guests a variety of sandwiches, which can be filled with traditional salads, making them easy to eat. Make sure to choose sturdy bread like hard rolls or baguettes, so your bite-sized meals stay together. A thin layer of butter on the bread also can help prevent soggy sandwiches. 

For dessert, Boulud likes to provide his guests with a selection of cheeses as well as sweet treats. Some delicious and simple options include brownies and cookies. You could also make the best of summer produce with berry hand pies that feature blueberries or raspberries. With these tips in mind, your next picnic could be one of the best meals you've ever had.