Burning Man has maintained a staff commissary for many years, but 2004 was perhaps the most successful, exciting year to date.

For the first time in 2004, we decided to outsource the Commissary. This was a tough decision to make, thinking about so many hard-working playa commies who have done such a great job over the years. But we faced a shift in management in 2004, giving us a daunting challenge of finding an entirely new crew and leader. Outsourcing allowed us to focus more on needed administrative improvements, while the new vendor worked its magic.

Working with the vendor was a smashing success. The new contributors shook things up with changes from past years like a double serving buffet line, different options on the beverage bar, and a creative new menu developed with the help of our veteran chefs. The vendor crew quickly found the spirit of the event and made contributions to the d├ęcor and ambience of the dining tent.

About this photo...Working with a new group brought a few challenges. The vendor team had not previously visited the Black Rock Desert, which we all know is a difficult and challenging working environment ? especially for a job as big as feeding several hundred people three times a day while meeting the strict standards of the Nevada Health Department, which requires us to meet the same standards as any other food establishment, regardless of our environment. The small vendor crew was tested during the initial crunch to get operations set up in time to serve the first meal on the playa. They met the challenge and passed with flying colors, fully bonding with some returning members of the Burning Man Commissary crew and forming a cohesive team.

The change was a tough transition for some former playa commies. They were used to working in the kitchen and jumping to get things done, but now they began to focus more on the administrative side of things. Still, this new focus improved control of meal privileges and increased the level of detail in the information we captured. More complete data gave event organizers an improved understanding of meal usage, allowing us to plan much more effectively for 2005.

About this photo...The Commissary provides vital support during the building of Black Rock City. Crews work hard in the hot desert sun for many hours a day pounding t-stakes, building shade, and moving heavy equipment. They appreciate the chance the Commissary gives them to take a quick break, get out of the sun, and enjoy a nice meal and a cold drink in a welcoming and friendly environment.

Submitted by,
Bex Workman
Commissary Administration Coordinator