Picnicking with Pizzazz

Wicker Baskt delivers gourmet picnics up and down the peninsula

There are two ways to view every picnic.

On one hand, you get to eat a summery meal in the open air, paired with a lovely view of your choosing. On the other hand, you have the hassle of setting everything up and packing it away again. (It turns out there’s a reason why picnics are usually reserved for special occasions.) 

As the owner of Wicker Baskt, a Door County–based luxury picnic business that’s in its second season of operation, Bree Kotwitz doesn’t mind the hassle. She provides the food and serving pieces; arranges the picnic spot with chairs, pillows, blankets and décor; and cleans up everything afterward.

“All clients have to do is show up,” she said.

Understandably, things aren’t nearly as easy on Kotwitz’s end. Orchestrating a picnic starts in the commercial kitchen she uses at Sturgeon Bay’s Northeast Wisconsin Technical College campus, where she prepares her food.

“It’s chaos for about two to three hours while I run around and get things ready, but that’s kind of the fun of it,” she said. 

The meal is typically a charcuterie-style board layered with meat, cheese and fruit, alongside a mocktail and some infused water. Customers can get specific about the food they want for their picnic, especially if they have food restrictions, but many leave the decision-making to Kotwitz.

Bree Kotwitz. Photo courtesy of Wicker Baskt.

In addition to luxury picnics, she also creates grazing boards for events. Wicker Baskt’s grazing-board fare is similar to its picnic fare – there’s just a lot more of it.

Once all the food is prepared for a picnic, Kotwitz delivers it to the location of her client’s choosing (she covers the entire peninsula, minus Washington Island) and sets up the picnic spot and meal. Clients then have a two-hour window during which to polish off their food before Kotwitz returns to clean it all up.

Clients usually book their picnics at least five days in advance, but her work starts well before that. She’s constantly on the lookout for what’s in season and available from local businesses and farmers markets, sourcing cheeses from Door County Creamery, breads from Cultured, salmon from Charlie’s Smokehouse, and fresh fruit and flowers from a variety of local growers.

“The idea is to highlight all the best Door County has to offer,” showcasing the peninsula’s natural beauty alongside its local food, Kotwitz said.

She moved to Door County in 2019 and started Wicker Baskt shortly thereafter. Her business, which she runs by herself, is just one of the “too many jobs” she joked about having – she also works in catering and as a prep cook. 

Going into the picnic business wasn’t always her plan, and neither was living in Door County. Kotwitz started off studying biology in Milwaukee, but eventually she “got sick of living in theory and working in a lab,” she said, so she did a 180 and bought a one-way ticket to India, where she planned to study yoga.

“I ended up traveling around for a few years to Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand,” working in the travel and hospitality industries, Kotwitz said.

These travels revealed a creative side that she was previously unaware she had, but it was an excellent complement to her restaurant-industry experience as she established Wicker Baskt. 

It was a friend’s suggestion that brought Kotwitz to this area. After a few years abroad, she was ready to move back to the United States and settle down in Madison, where her parents lived. By then, her parents were ready to retire – to North Carolina. With less tying her to the Madison area, she followed her friend’s suggestion to move to Door County, which she hadn’t visited since she was a child.

“I was like, ‘I’ll give it a try, and if I don’t like it, I’ll move again.’ I was so used to being transient,” Kotwitz said, “but Door County made me fall back in love with Wisconsin and really gave me a sense of community.”