The Burning Man Project maintains a small staff commissary on-site to feed the hardworking folks who build and maintain the city, and then remove it after the event. People pounding t-stakes or surveying theme camp locations for 12 hours a day in the hot sun treasure the ability to stop in a shady place, get something cold to drink, eat a nourishing meal, and relax for a few minutes. These small comforts can make all the difference between staying productive through wind and dust and Playa Madness.
Running a successful commissary on the playa is no small feat. We’re 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 – regardless of our special environmental conditions. In order to meet this standard, we rent a formal commercial kitchen trailer and a large refrigerated semi-truck. We set up food prep and storage facilities in containers, create a commercial-size barbecue, weld together incinerators, and plumb potable water delivery and gray water capture tanks. This configuration requires frequent servicing of the generators (because if they go down, thousands of dollars’ worth of food spoil), daily fresh water replenishment and gray water removal. All this requires a tremendous up-front menu planning task, as all food has to be ordered well in advance so that it can be dispatched from a warehouse outside Reno and delivered to the playa in weekly shipments.
All hail the legions of drink mixers and vegetable-choppers! Celebrate the late night food-preppers, servers, cooks and dishwashers who made it happen! And don’t forget the folks who built the shade and the fence, kept the fuel coming, took food delivery orders for remote crews, packaged up and delivered meals, etc. etc. etc.