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Maggie Beer Reveals The Secrets To A Perfect Picnic

Maggie Beer is somewhat of an expert when it comes to the art of putting together the perfect picnic.

The legendary cook, author and beloved ‘MasterChef’ guest judge spent her teenage years setting off on adventures down the south coast of NSW, after loading up the car with a scrumptious picnic feast to share with friends.

“When I was young, we used to go off down the coast with our baskets in the boots of our Holden cars and we’d have cold duck and I would have always cooked a chook,” Maggie told 10 daily.

Maggie would travel from Sydney to the coastal town of Bulli for its “beautiful scenery, swimming and picnic-ing”.

“Then we’d climb down the cliff and have a picnic at the bottom and it was really... it was a pastime for us when we were in our late teens, celebrating the food and being together in the outdoors, I loved it,” she said.

Maggie has been part of ‘MasterChef’ since the very beginning and, every year, her entrance into the competition is met with squeals of giddy delight from contestants when they realise they’re about to be mentored by one of Australia’s most cherished, and respected foodies.

This year, Maggie was asked by Gary, George and Matt to oversee a challenge that was a lot more difficult than it first seemed -- a delightful picnic at Hanging Rock in Victoria's Macedon Ranges.  

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“Yes, the picnic wasn’t easy for them, either,” Maggie explained to 10 daily.

“Making food at the base of the iconic Hanging Rock in a makeshift camp kitchen for 100 guests where they had quite prescriptive needs to make a salad, a savoury item, a dip and a sweet treat," Maggie said. 

"It’s not like cooking in the kitchen that they’ve become accustomed to, it’s quite a challenge," she added. 

Photo: Network 10.

Maggie is well known for her prowess at picnic fare, writing in her seasonal cookbook tome that shares a title with a Neil Young record --'Harvest' -- that picnics need to be as "simple as possible".

She told 10 daily a few of her favourite things to pack up in a basket that needn't be served hot, and don't require packing everything but the kitchen sink to serve up.

"One of the things that I find different about picnics now is that you want to make sure you’re not leaving anything behind and that unpacking isn’t a chore, either," Maggie said. 

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"I think picnic sandwiches where you do have many layers, with a crisp outside and many layers in between," she advised. 

"So that’s a pretty good idea but I do also love pies and pies don’t have to be hot. And I love having pies and cheese and fruit and some sort of sweet treat, things that don’t need a lot of accoutrements that are a bother to take back up to the car afterwards," Maggie said. 

And to drink? Well, it all depends on the season, whether you're feeling like something cool and refreshing in summer or a more cosy beverage during the chillier months.

"In summer it’s more likely to be a really cold cider for lunch or a non-alcoholic sparkling ruby, that’s pretty good for a picnic," Maggie told 10 daily. 

"If it’s winter, then I still think a glass of red wine on a picnic goes pretty well," she added. 

Tune into Maggie's picnic challenge on 'MasterChef' tonight from 7.30pm on 10.

MasterChef Australia airs Sunday to Thursday nights at 7.30pm. Only On 10 And WIN Network. Missed an episode? Catch up on 10 Play or 10 All Access!