Take your summer picnic to the next level
Gone are the days when the sole definition of a picnic was a barbecued chook, a hastily prepared tub of coleslaw and a foam Esky full of beer and chardonnay.
Don’t get us wrong – there’s certainly a place for the traditional summer get-together fare, but growing numbers of picnickers are going next-level with their culinary choices.
Enter companies like Lake Macquarie-based Miss Mays Picnics, whose decadent outdoor grazing tables are the stuff of Instagram renown.
They look incredible, taste amazing and cater for everything from a handful of friends to hundreds of party guests.
We caught Alice May – the brains behind Miss Mays – for a few quick questions during the festive season rush to get some advice on creating the perfect picnic … and to find out a bit more about her burgeoning enterprise.
* We’ve got an amazing prize up for grabs for one lucky Lake Mac reader – a picnic catered by Miss Mays Picnics for up to 10 people at a Lake Mac location of your choice! Head to our Instagram page to find out how to enter.
What are some of your top tips for preparing a picnic platter?
First, more is more. Some people say less is more, but there is nothing worse to us than when we see a grazing table that looks sparse and has heaps of empty gaps.
Think about using fillers to plug the empty gaps, whether it’s pretzels, crackers or our personal favourite – delicious beetroot chips.
Always use high quality produce, and try using some greenery and fresh florals to take it to the next level and make it look luxurious.
Finally, don’t forget to include a mixture of sweet and savoury to cater to different tastes.
What about choosing the right spot to set up?
You definitely want somewhere shaded – for the food, and for comfort.
We like secluded locations. We try and find a nice, quiet spot for our customers so they have the best experience with their loved ones.
Hot tip – it should also be close to public toilets, because there’s nothing worse than not being able to find one when you need to go!
Access is also important. We have so much gear to transport and we want it to be easy access for our customers, in case they have loved ones who are elderly etc and can't walk too far.
And always have a back-up location planned in case the weather turns bad. Summer always has unexpected thunderstorms.
What are the top three picnic rookie errors?
1. A grazing table that looks sparse with heaps of gaps is a killer for us.
2. Blobs of one colour. Spread colours across the platter or grazing table.
3. Lack of greenery. Floral greenery is a must for contrast and to give the grazing table an earthy look.
What were you doing before you got involved in picnic catering and what prompted the switch to what you’re doing now?
Before starting this adventure with Miss Mays Picnics, I worked at Myer as a visual merchandiser. My husband Max was doing his carpentry apprenticeship when we started this business two years ago.
He had to do his last year of his apprenticeship whilst helping me every weekend. We worked out he was doing up to 80 hours a week with the admin side of it and helping me every weekend with the logistics too.
What do you love about what you do?
The things we love about this business is that we get to make people happy with our beautiful set ups. It is so priceless for me when I see their reactions for the first time, it is just so rewarding on so many levels.
I also love how creative it is! I have always been a creative person since I was little so I am always thinking of new ideas so I don't get creatively bored.
Tell us about some of the interesting places in Lake Mac you’ve set up picnics?
A few of our favourite locations would have to be Speers Point foreshore, Marmong Point, Belmont, Little Pelican and Swansea, near the lake.
We love these locations because not only are they picturesque with the water views and sunsets, but they have spots that are also very secluded, so our customers can enjoy their experience as if they have the whole view to themselves.
Ever had any particularly interesting or unusual groups or requests?
We did have someone who requested a Harry Potter picnic and another who wanted a Buddha-themed date night before, but unfortunately we weren’t available on their chosen dates.
What do you love about Lake Mac?
We adore the water views. We are so lucky to call this place home. We also love the lifestyle here, how we are so close to everything, and how laid back it is.
What’s next for you and your business?
Expansion is the next big thing for our business! It’s just Max and me who run this business and we are turning down so much work. We want to put on staff and double our bookings, so we’re definitely aiming to have a great team of staff by this time next year. We are so excited to have like-minded and creative individuals working with us!