Royal Ascot: Chef Raymond Blanc on packing the ideal picnic for the races

Raymond Blanc
When it comes to picnics, you can either choose to be a perfectionist and lovingly prepare every element of your picnic at home in advance - or - these days you can buy it almost all off the shelf!Either way, always make sure it is colourful and fresh with wonderful tastes and textures for the summer. My favourite picnic dishes are simple crudités including grated carrot, celeriac, and ripe plump Marmande or Black Russian tomatoes.And why not some fat gherkins or organic smoked salmon on the fluffiest blinis or crunchy rye bread?Then, for the carnivorous friends, a gorgeous saucisson or traditional pork pies.Most importantly, a selection of the finest British and French cheeses, not forgetting comté from my home region! And we cannot forget dessert. For summer picnics, desserts must include the very best British strawberries, blackcurrants and raspberries topped with the best French crème fraîche... and no sugar please!Or if you have time, why not prepare a beautiful poached peach in white wine. Finally, Champagne and rosé at all times is a must. This year's line-up of chefs at Royal Ascot, with a total of eight Michelin stars between them, includes Raymond Blanc, Ollie Dabbous, Simon Rogan, Phil Howard, Eric Lanlard, James Tanner and Neil Rankin Royal Ascot picnic shopping list (by Megan C. Hills) Picnic Basket: Soho Home Country House Four-Person Wicker Picnic BasketMeghan Markle is known to be a fan of Soho Home's crockery and this charming picnic set by the brand comes with everything you'll ever need for the perfect picnic (barring the food, of course).£135 | Selfridges | Buy it now Picnic Blanket: Slowdown Studio Kimbie ThrowWhether you're dining on a picnic spread or hanging this up at home, this blanket designed by Maite Garcia is sure to make a statement wherever you are. £250 | Opumo | Buy it now Champagne: Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2012Given that Moët & Chandon are the official sponsors of this year's Royal Ascot, it only makes sense to splash out on some of their bubbly.£55 | Clos 19 | Buy it now Champagne: Veuve Clicquot Vintage Brut 2008Hailing from Champagne, this bottle of Veuve will see you through the day - plus Harrods is offering 10% off a case of 12 if you're planning on going big. £68 | Harrods | Buy it now Cheese: Whole Foods Market Stilton Colston Bassett CheeseThis blue cheese from Whole Foods is made in Nottingham and is described as a "classy, classic Stilton".£5.99 | Whole Foods Market via Amazon | Buy it now Cheese: The Fine Cheese Co. ComteAs Chef Raymond Blanc recommends, a wedge of comte never goes amiss at a picnic. Whether you want 250g or a hefty 1kg worth of comte, this piece from the Jura mountain region is a great choice.£6.65 (for 250g) | The Fine Cheese Co. | Buy it now Pork Pie: Marks & Spencer Mini Pork Pie SelectionDiscerning pork pie lovers have the choice of three different types in this 12 piece bundle, including cured, Melton and Ploughman's pickle topped pies.£7 | Marks & Spencer | Buy it now Dessert: Waitrose 1 Summer Blush British StrawberriesThe packaging for these strawberries even includes an illustration of a woman who looks like she's off to Ascot. £4.50 | Waitrose | Buy it now

When it comes to picnics, you can either choose to be a perfectionist and lovingly prepare every element of your picnic at home in advance - or - these days you can buy it almost all off the shelf!

Either way, always make sure it is colourful and fresh with wonderful tastes and textures for the summer.

My favourite picnic dishes are simple crudités including grated carrot, celeriac, and ripe plump Marmande or Black Russian tomatoes.

And why not some fat gherkins or organic smoked salmon on the fluffiest blinis or crunchy rye bread?

(Fortnum & Mason)

Then, for the carnivorous friends, a gorgeous saucisson or traditional pork pies.

Most importantly, a selection of the finest British and French cheeses, not forgetting comté from my home region!

(Fortnum and Mason)

And we cannot forget dessert. For summer picnics, desserts must include the very best British strawberries, blackcurrants and raspberries topped with the best French crème fraîche... and no sugar please!

Or if you have time, why not prepare a beautiful poached peach in white wine.

(Fortnum and Mason)

Finally, Champagne and rosé at all times is a must.

This year's line-up of chefs at Royal Ascot, with a total of eight Michelin stars between them, includes Raymond Blanc, Ollie Dabbous, Simon Rogan, Phil Howard, Eric Lanlard, James Tanner and Neil Rankin

Royal Ascot picnic shopping list (by Megan C. Hills)

Picnic Basket: Soho Home Country House Four-Person Wicker Picnic Basket

Meghan Markle is known to be a fan of Soho Home's crockery and this charming picnic set by the brand comes with everything you'll ever need for the perfect picnic (barring the food, of course).

£135 | Selfridges | Buy it now

Picnic Blanket: Slowdown Studio Kimbie Throw

Whether you're dining on a picnic spread or hanging this up at home, this blanket designed by Maite Garcia is sure to make a statement wherever you are.

£250 | Opumo | Buy it now

Champagne: Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2012

Given that Moët & Chandon are the official sponsors of this year's Royal Ascot, it only makes sense to splash out on some of their bubbly.

£55 | Clos 19 | Buy it now

Champagne: Veuve Clicquot Vintage Brut 2008

Hailing from Champagne, this bottle of Veuve will see you through the day - plus Harrods is offering 10% off a case of 12 if you're planning on going big.

£68 | Harrods | Buy it now

Cheese: Whole Foods Market Stilton Colston Bassett Cheese

This blue cheese from Whole Foods is made in Nottingham and is described as a "classy, classic Stilton".

£5.99 | Whole Foods Market via Amazon | Buy it now

Cheese: The Fine Cheese Co. Comte

As Chef Raymond Blanc recommends, a wedge of comte never goes amiss at a picnic. Whether you want 250g or a hefty 1kg worth of comte, this piece from the Jura mountain region is a great choice.

£6.65 (for 250g) | The Fine Cheese Co. | Buy it now

Pork Pie: Marks & Spencer Mini Pork Pie Selection

Discerning pork pie lovers have the choice of three different types in this 12 piece bundle, including cured, Melton and Ploughman's pickle topped pies.

£7 | Marks & Spencer | Buy it now

Dessert: Waitrose 1 Summer Blush British Strawberries

The packaging for these strawberries even includes an illustration of a woman who looks like she's off to Ascot.

£4.50 | Waitrose | Buy it now