The Good Fairies
Imagine walking along a sylvan path. Suddenly you break through into a glade and there, in front of you, is an elegant little repast laid out on a low table with flowers, candelabras, fine china and linens. It is truly a Goldilocks moment but this discovery is sure to be just the right size each time.
For this meal has been prepared by Berkshire Picnics, a new enterprise established by three Lenox-area women that provides picnics as sophisticated as the region.
The genesis of the idea was simple.
“My sister, Heather (Meister Dremak), and our friend, Abby (Fenton), all love food and the outdoors,” explained Jennifer Meister Knodler. “Heather and I both have kids and we were constantly finding ourselves packing bags and heading places—picnicking is part of our family culture. But not everyone has the same skill to pack up what is needed. Heather kind of stumbled across companies in other parts of the country doing this and we realized this part of the country has views as beautiful as anywhere else.”
The goal of Berkshire Picnics is to provide simple, understated experiences that make clients feel special. There are several packages available starting with the brunch, available from 9AM to noon and starting at $250 for two. The meal consists of croissants, jam, tea, muffins and fruit with a variety of beverages that includes make-your-own mimosas or a Bloody Mary Bar.
Lunch, available from noon to 3PM, starts at $300 for two and offers a charcuterie board with meats, cheeses and traditional accompaniments such as olives, vegetable crudités, fruit, sweet and savory options and more. Beverages include sparkling water, Berkshire local beer and/or wine.
Dinners, from 5 to 8PM and starting at $300, include farm-to-table seasonal meal selections created by renowned area chefs who use local, organic, ethical and natural ingredients. Drinks include water, Berkshire local beer, wine, or a make-your-own-cocktail bar.
Packages include set-up/breakdown, stylized decor, flatware, plates, napkins, drinkware, seating, blankets, a sun umbrella, conversation cards, a Bluetooth speaker and games.
“We started about a month and a half ago and immediately got bookings,” said Knodler. “We were actually surprised at how quickly it started. Our intention for next year is to be ahead of where we are now in understanding the packages we offer.
“A lot of small businesses have been reaching out to us who want to be part of it and we see an evolution happening,” she continued. “Institutions such as the Rockwell Museum have reached out and said we could use their lawns because it is good for their patrons and, food-wise, we’re getting outreach from local chefs.”
All this fits neatly into their design. “We want to pull together a total Berkshire experience,” she continued. “We have been leaning on Berkshire icons to source our food and drinks, pulling together culinary delights.”
She said the picnics can accommodate dietary restrictions and that “elevated” experiences can be devised for special occasions. “We have already provided a picnic for an elopement,” she revealed. “That was so interesting we couldn’t pass it up.”
In terms of where the picnics are staged, she said most have been in the greater Lenox area and most, to date, have been lunches and dinners. The trio decided to embrace the “surprise” element. Patrons are asked to indicate their preferences—park, lake, forest and the like—and then the entrepreneurs choose a place that is a great fit. “Once we have the details of what they like and how far they want to walk, we select a spot and tell people where to go,” said Knodler. “It is a little more of a ‘lean on us’ approach than giving them a picnic basket and sending them off to find a spot. So far, it has worked really well and we have been able to introduce people to places they never knew about.”
Usually, the picnic creators try not to be present when guests arrive but sometimes it is necessary to greet clients before discretely withdrawing. When the party is over, like friendly fairies, they arrive to clean up, leaving guests with only the memory of a truly special time.