Calamari Salad. Supplied

The Vodacom Durban July is just a few days away and while everyone is excited about the ultra-exclusive marquees and VIP suites, not everyone prefers to party that way. 

Some punters want to be closer to the action while enjoying a picnic with their closest friends.

If you fall into the latter category, then this is for you. 

Executive Chef at the Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani Hotel, Shaun Munro, and Director of Blue Strawberry's Jenni Jackson shared some  menu ideas to ensure that your picnic compares favourably with some of the VIP marquee meals. 

Shaun Munro's ideas: 

Starter 

Pickled calamari salad - quick grilled calamari rings, allowed to marinade in a white wine vinegar vinaigrette, with finely sliced red peppers, celery, carrot, onion, garlic and chopped parsley.

Peri-peri chicken liver âté - sauté chicken livers with onion, garlic and peri-peri seasoning, then blend with butter, cream and brandy (optional). Then mix in dried crushed red chilli flakes, allow to set overnight and serve with crusty baguette.

Butter Chicken Soup. Picture: Supplied

Mains

Well-charred crusted BBQ-basted rare whole fillet steak, shaved into floury Portuguese buns, with hummus, onion marmalade, marinated sundried tomatoes and rocket.

Tandoori spiced skewered deboned chicken thighs, with lemon wedges and minted cucumber raita.

Thai flavoured fish cakes with wasabi mayo and a lemon infused soy sauce reduction.

Steaming butter chicken soup, flavoured with chopped ginger preserve, in a hot beverage with naan bread croutons.

Biltong, blue cheese and butternut quiches, with onion marmalade.

Dessert

Mini black forest berries and chocolate trifles, in small glass jars.

Mini meringues with fresh strawberries, chocolate whispers and whipped cream - at the last minute, roughly crushed and folded all together or eaten separately is just as good.

Vanilla bean crème brûlée ramekins.

Fudge-topped shortbread. Picture: Supplied

Jenni Jackson's ideas: 

Breakfast

Peanut Butter, Sliced Banana and Toasted Almond with Honey.

Smoked Salmon, Dill Cream Cheese.

Brie, Strawberry and Balsamic with Rocket Leaves.

Breakfast Smoothie Jars: add your own milk choice and shake (almond, coconut or regular).

Banana Cream Parfait with Honey.

Spiced Apple and Walnut.

Bake ahead Frittata with Chorizo, Spinach and Mushroom.

Lunch 

Peppered Goats Cheese and Onion Marmalade Tartlet (V).

Pickled calamari salad, Julienne Vegetable & Rice Noodle Salad with a Soy Mirin Dressing.

Camembert, Fig and Pecan Puff Cigars (V).

Chocolate Fudge Shortbread.

Mediterranean Potato Salad. Picture: Supplied

Dinner

Chipolatas with Wholegrain Mustard Dip.

Farfalle Pasta, Baby Spinach, Peppers and Cherry Tomato Salad.

Mini Lime Chilli Coriander Chicken Skewers.

Mediterranean Mustard Potato Salad.