Perfect Picnics

Barbara Ries

In a land of great food and plenty of open space, the art of the picnic is something many of us work on perfecting. While there are many ways to enjoy a meal alfresco here in Marin, we’ve asked six popular award-winning chefs to reveal their favorite picnic pastimes.


Justin Everett, executive chef of Murray Circle at Cavallo Point for the past three years, enjoys relaxing with his family and friends at Heart’s Desire Beach in Inverness. WHAT We’ll grab oysters along the way. Stop at Perry’s Deli; they’ve expanded recently and carry everything one needs for a picnic. We always get something from Cowgirl Creamery to snack on as I barbecue oysters. WHERE Heart’s Desire Beach is definitely one of our favorites because the shallow water is great for my kids — they can’t get into too much trouble — and there are plenty of picnic tables and barbecues.

Jared Rodgers has been heading up the kitchen at Picco Restaurant in Larkspur for the past few years. When he is not cooking or sleeping, you’ll find him on the trails of Marin. WHAT My go-to would have to be bread from PANoRAMA bakery that I buy at the market (love the Napa Valley, Rusticana and Rosemary). The next items would be local king salmon that I hot smoke and summer cucumbers from the market with a little bit of tarragon aioli. WHERE The cliffs above RCA Beach in Bolinas — I love Bolinas because it is funky and fun.

Joanne Weir leads the kitchen at Copita in Sausalito and keeps busy with her own cooking show and cookbook line. WHAT I love McEvoy Ranch travel-size extra-virgin olive oil. It’s perfect for the picnic basket. It is so fresh and grassy and goes with everything. WHERE The best view and picnic area on a sunny day is on the grass near the ferry landing in Tiburon. We love to see the boats and the city from this vantage point.

Michael Mina, an award-winning chef and restaurateur, lives in West Marin with his family. He currently oversees many restaurants all over the country. WHAT Oysters at Tomales Bay Oyster Company or Hog Island. WHERE We go straight to the source at either Highway 1 location. Grab a table, buy a bag of fresh-from-the-bay oysters — it’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

Robert Price is the executive chef at Marin favorites Buckeye Roadhouse, Bungalow 44 and Bar Bocce. He tries to join his wife, an avid hiker, when he can, especially if there’s a full moon involved. WHAT We pick up sandwiches at Blue Barn Gourmet in Corte Madera (they source their ingredients locally) — a favorite these days is the Buffalo Blue grilled chicken sandwich — and a couple bottles of wine. WHERE We enjoy taking Tennessee Valley Road all the way to the beach. Find a rock, watch the sunset or the moonrise; you’ll usually be alone. Amazing.

Gordon Drysdale, executive chef and partner at Mill Valley’s Sweetwater Music Hall, has stayed on as a consultant and head of “haute stoner” cuisine. WHAT We bring crispy fruits and veggies (Nantes carrots, whole sliced fennel bulbs, radishes, apples, etc.), a GMO-free granola that we make, a little buffalo jerky, and then a 70 percent chocolate. A CamelBak filled with ice water rounds out the experience and you’re on your way. WHERE A favorite for us is Pantoll. We park at the ranger station, hike down through the redwoods and stop at a flat, rocky spot right on top of the stream. It’s shady and the stream is lovely — totally peaceful.

Categories: Summer Guide, Things to Do