Editor’s note: this business has closed
Madeline Picnic Co. was first established in 2014 as a mobile business for delivering fresh, organic picnics featuring the finest local produce. Each picnic is beautifully wrapped in eco-friendly packaging, and delivered to pre-determined pick-up locations along the South Fork. The founder, Chef Madeline McLean, also offers boutique catering for hire, available for small to medium scale events. MPCo offers a bespoke experience, working closely with clients to curate gourmet experiences according their needs, visions, or dietary restrictions. In addition, Madeline Picnic Co. launched a go food line of à-la-carte packaged salads and beverages starting this season. These will be sold at independent retail outlets and at Hayground Farmers Market in Bridgehampton (3-6:30pm).
I recently met Chef McLean, who was hosting a tasting event at Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett. I had the opportunity to try her homemade Vietnamese Cold Brew Coffee sweetened with a touch of condensed milk; The English Garden Tartine: Mixed radishes, dill butter, Maldon sea salt (vegetarian); Spring Soba Noodle Salad: Buckwheat soba noodles, bok choy, charred cabbage, cucumber, mint, ginger sesame dressing (vegetarian); Chopped Kale Caesar Salad: Mixed kale, radish, garlic croutons, dukkah sprinkle, vegan Caesar dressing (vegan); and The French Farmer Tartine: Cured pork saucisson, onion jam, farmhouse cheddar, cornichons pickles, cracked pepper. Everything was above and beyond delicious! I asked my husband as we were enjoying our picnic lunch, “When’s our next picnic? We are looking no further than Madeline Picnic Co.!”
Below is an exclusive interview with McLean, who discusses travel inspiration, favorite picnic destinations, and launching her second season.
Please describe your travels and how you came to create your farm-to-fork picnic company?
I have been lucky enough to have traveled extensively since I was a child. I also have lived abroad, in both Paris and London for a year and several years respectively. My travels have influenced both my sensibility of food and have provided creativity in my cooking and menus. I owe so much of my inspiration to traveling to countries such as Morocco, Syria, India, Southeast Asia, France, Italy and Spain. I have always cooked and through traveling I have gotten more and more eager about cooking, different cuisines, cultures and food. It was the East End that really provided a synthesis between fresh farm produce and turning these beautiful resources into something that would inspire other people. I hadn’t seen such a community thriving in agriculture, fishing and food entrepreneurship in a long time like this, and it made all the light bulbs go off in my head about my idea and what Madeline Picnic Co. is today.
I love the beverages list, especially the Iced Moroccan Mint Tea and Iced Mandarin Orange Rooibos Tea! Are any of these recipes or ingredients inspired by your travels?
Most of them are very much inspired by my travels! Especially the Moroccan mint tea and the Vietnamese cold brew! Soon I want to try an iced chai with house made almond milk (which is also inspired by my travels).
How did you go about creating the menu? What is your inspiration behind the children’s menu?
My menu is at once practical, healthy and creative. The creativity comes from my travels and cooking experience, the healthy part comes from using the freshest of ingredients and always making sure I provide real, whole foods, and the practicality comes from what stands up in a picnic lunch (ie. what lasts in it’s packaging for hours, what looks great but still tasted good after a couple of days in someone’s fridge, etc). All of those have to be in balance! My children’s menu is still always an experiment and something to play with. I provide a children’s menu because many parents have voiced a need for healthy/delicious food for kids. Plus, picnics are a whole-family affair! Kids have to eat and be involved too!
Where are your favorite picnic destinations in the Hamptons/North Fork?
My favorite picnic locales on the East End have to be at the beach – I love Townline and Wiborg beaches and then out at Lazy Point! And sometimes I am lucky to go sailing with friends, and that’s the most wonderful picnic experience too.
What are your most popular menu items?
My newly introduced Banh Mi’s are very popular! In the height of summer, my most popular menu item is the Bella Italia tartan with fresh burrata, roasted tomatoes and fresh basil leaves – it’s so simple, classic and decadent! The Tuscan Squash salad is a huge hit with everyone.
What do you look forward to most about the coming summer?
Well every summer I look forward to the produce and herbs coming out week after week! I get so excited when I get the week’s wholesale lists from all the farms – it’s like Christmas every time! This summer in particular though, I am just so looking forward to being involved with new things, like the Hayground Farmer’s Market and other events in the works. I really look forward to just getting out there more and more and making people happy through food!
McLean works directly with some of the East End’s top food purveyors and farmers including Bhumi Farms, Mecox Bay Dairy, Good Water Farms, Balsam Farms, Amber Waves Farm, Quail Hill Farms, Josephine’s Feast, Carissa’s Breads, and Catapano Dairy Farm.
Picnic pick-up locations are at Forever Bungalows in Sag Harbor Forever between 11:15-11:45am, and at Amber Waves Farm between 12:00-12:45pm. The minimum amount of people per picnic is two, the maximum is six. You can order picnics and choose your own tartines, and side salads. There are kid-friendly options that include The Cuckoo Cashew: Coconut cashew butter and honey (vegan), and Pint-Size Picnic: Slices of country bread, salami, cheddar & mozzarella cheeses and seasonal fruit ($13/each). Drinks on the side include Iced Moroccan Mint Tea ($4), and Vietnamese Cold Brew Coffee ($4.50).