Each year, a dedicated group of restaurant professionals and serious amateur foodies spend Burning Man doing what we love best, COOKING! Several hundred people work incredible hours in conditions that can charitably be described as insane in order to create, maintain, and erase the infrastructure of Black Rock City. This diverse group of friends and strangers, staff and volunteers, somehow coalesces into a well-oiled machine for building community. Like any machine it needs fuel, thus the Playa Commissary.

The Commissary takes pleasure in providing three solid meals, coffee, snacks, electrolyte replacement and good cheer to all our hard-working sistren and brethren in the Burning Man staff and volunteer community for the month that we all live on the playa.

This year saw several changes which should be highlighted:

  1. Increased volunteer participation in the Commissary’s operations.
  2. A well-planned and smoothly executed setup, moving many tons of specialized equipment, thousands of dollars worth of food, hundreds of feet of plumbing and electrical components, a 40-foot by 80-foot circus tent, 3,200 square feet of carpet, lights, sound, action, and the best damn barbecue grill in the world onto the playa in 32 hours.
  3. We provided increased Commissary services, massages, better food, more music, more lights, and more fun.
  4. We enhanced record-keeping (yes, paperwork is a requirement), allowing us to keep in touch with our volunteers, and keep better track of our successes and failures so that we can we can live up to our motto-“Next year’s Burning Man was so much better.”
  5. We improved long-term planning. For the first time, the Commissary has been organized into an easily transported, modular unit, removing a huge amount of strain from the General Manager and facilitating a smooth setup, a comprehensive inventory, and a lot less screaming into radios.

We like to think of our place as the theme camp for all those people who are too busy working to make a theme camp of their own. A little bit of home, with a dash of heaven, for the T-stake pounder, the truck driver, the Greeter, the Lamplighter, the Ranger, the welder, and all of the various people who make Burning Man possible. This is not an easy task. We must meet all of the Nevada state health code requirements for a restaurant, confirmed by frequent inspections. This year, the health inspector was accompanied by a doctor from the CDC on a research project who said we had the best festival kitchen she had ever seen. We meet three deadlines a day feeding omnivores, vegetarians, and people who only want meat, with fresh food, plenty of variety, AND atmosphere. We also deliver food and drinks to people working far from our comforting tent.

In the future we would like to make still more improvements:

  1. Streamline the food delivery process, so no one is ever hungry or thirsty on a Burning Man work crew.
  2. Increase volunteer participation, because more hands make lighter work.
  3. Continue to plan and implement procedures to make the work of running the Playa Commissary as easy as it looks.

Thank you to all the staff and volunteers who dedicated so many skills and hours to making this year’s Playa Commissary the best ever. We hope to see you next year for more: more fun, more food, more community, and more satisfaction.

Submitted by, Catfish Mike