The Burning Man organization maintains a small staff commissary on-site to feed the hardworking folks who build and maintain the city and then pack it up and take it away. For people pounding t-stakes or surveying theme camp locations for 12 hours a day in the hot sun, the availability of a shady place to stop, chug some electrolytes, eat a nourishing meal and relax for a few minutes can make all the difference in being able to stay productive through wind, dust and playa madness.
Running a successful commissary on the playa is no small feat. The facilities are subject to licensing and frequent inspection by the Nevada State Department of Health, which holds us to the same standards as any other commercial food service operation, irrespective of the environmental conditions. In order to meet this standard, we rent a formal commercial kitchen trailer, a large refrigerated semi truck, set up food prep and storage facilities in containers, create a commercial-size barbecue, and weld incinerators and plumb potable water delivery and gray water capture tanks to make it all work. This configuration requires frequent servicing of the generators (which cannot be allowed to shut down, lest thousands of dollars worth of food spoil). Fresh water must also be replenished and gray water removed on a daily basis. In addition there is a tremendous up-front menu planning task, as all food must be ordered well in advance so that it can be dispatched from a warehouse outside of Reno and delivered to the playa in weekly shipments.
This year our new General Manager/Executive Chef brought his Culinary Institute training, previous playa experience, and wide circle of talented friends to help create our best year so far. In addition to feeding omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans a delicious and nutritious selection of goodies non-stop from 7 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. daily (with lots of to-go meals for remote crews), our team also made Club Commissary an enjoyable place to take a break, hear some music, catch up with other staff members to solve problems, and maybe even spin some fire.
All Hail the legions of electrolyte drink mixers and vegetable-choppers and late night food-preppers and servers and cooks and dishwashers who made it happen — and the folks who built the shade and the fence, kept the fuel coming, took and relayed messages about food delivery problems and otherwise contributed to the success of the Commissary.