Advice for managing the kitchen?

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Advice for managing the kitchen?

Postby brushfire on the playa » Tue Jul 17, 2012 5:31 pm

Hello all,
I was wondering if any of you have run/managed the kitchen for a semi-large camp in past years and had any advice to give? Last year I was part of a first year registered theme camp and was kitchen manager. There were about 35 people in total. Overall, it went well but there is (of course) room for improvement. Because of the great ticket fiasco of 2012 our camp will be a bit smaller this year, so kitchen management will likely be a bit easier. A lot of what we did in the kitchen worked out but there were some issues.
We encountered problems with keeping the kitchen clean by the end of the week, keeping the kitchen organized and not messy and having an effective way to clean pots/pans, etc.

Have any of you been manager of for the kitchen of semi-large camps over the years and have any useful advice to share? What worked for you? What didn't? How do you go about running your kitchen effectively?

Any advice is welcome and appreciated!

Thanks! :)
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Re: Advice for managing the kitchen?

Postby shykat » Tue Jul 17, 2012 5:46 pm

The best advise i can give is to delagate the work load to the crew working with you. To manage a larger kitchen, you need help. Lets say you have 4 kitchen crew, make one the lead of clean up and another the prep guy,ect....those leads are managed by you, but in charge of a small dept. in the whole process..


Also,beat into the camp that it's important to clean up after themselves. Get your leads to activley recruit camp members for help.


As for cleaning your pots and panns,ect...Hard to say with out knowing your set up.
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Re: Advice for managing the kitchen?

Postby lemur » Tue Jul 17, 2012 6:00 pm

i run a kitchen for a camp.. this year we are a bit smaller, 140ish people.. last two years we were well over 200 people.

itd probably be easier to help if you mentioned how you do things in your kitchen.. ..what is the daily routine ? do you have sign ups for helpers? is it all just one person? what kind of cleanup gear do ya got..etc


keeping the kitchen clean with a group of people (at burning man) is not easy.. in the kitchen i run we only do dinner, but the kitchen is open for people to use for their own use during the day.. we close it down for camp use to prep for dinner around 3pm... making sure its clean before starting the nights meal..

the big thing id say in relation to keeping it clean is to try and avoid treating it like some off campus college apartment kitchen.. treat it like youd hope a restaraunt would be treating it..

every night i make sure that the kitchen is as spotless as possible before turning off a few lights and heading off to do the black rock city thing..... this might mean, with some help, or no help.. that i am in there at 11pm or later.. but once im done i know that im not leaving anything to deal with in the morning.. and that it looks awesome.. and i like it looking awesome.

our kitchen has a single wash station for pots/pans/dishes, the standard 3 bath affair.. but we use 4 baths to keep it going a bit longer (soapy water in #1, plain water in #2, weak bleach sanitizing solution in #3 and #4).. there have been signups for cleanup crew every night and that usually works fine ...3-4 people helping to make it happen.

stuff that works: asking for people to help and giving them a job to do and letting them surprise you with the results
stuff that doesnt work: expecting people to not do stupid shit.
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Re: Advice for managing the kitchen?

Postby shykat » Tue Jul 17, 2012 6:03 pm

lemur wrote:stuff that doesnt work: expecting people to not do stupid shit.



That is good advise......
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Re: Advice for managing the kitchen?

Postby lemur » Tue Jul 17, 2012 6:13 pm

yeah.

what he said.

delegate. a lot.

ive tried both ways.. the 'do everything and manage it' way.. which burns you out and kinda sucks... and the 'do the stuff that allows the crew to do their job.. and manage it' way.. and that works much better..

dont micromanage, give people a goal.. let them figure out how to achieve the goal..


oh yeah.. and dont yell at people.. even if they do something totally dumb


(here was our 2011 kitchen! just cuz i like showing our awesomeness)
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Re: Advice for managing the kitchen?

Postby brushfire on the playa » Tue Jul 17, 2012 6:15 pm

For group meals last year, we only did dinner as well. The kitchen was open for personal use throughout the day/night when it wasn't dinner time. The way we did dinner last year worked really well. I assigned "meal teams" of about 4-6 people per day to cook dinner for the whole camp of around 35 people each night. Dinner was to be served around dusk (which works well as people come back to camp around this time naturally to glow up and get ready to go out for the night). This way, each group only had to cook one large meal for the week and were still served a large meal each night. This also gave us a great variety in food we were eating. Each team was responsible for cleaning up their pots/pans that they used that evening. We mainly used burnable plates/bowls to burn in our burn barrel each night to reduce trash we had to haul out.

I think our main issue was overall kitchen organization (we had no shelves or anywhere specifically to put people's food) and an effective way of cleaning our communal pots and pans. We were thinking this year to get a sink with a foot pump and a spout that filters into a grey water tank. Do any of you have experience with using a sink to clean pots and pans? Did it work well? Or do you have other methods? It was really difficult to monitor kitchen cleanliness during the day when I was out having fun of my own, I would often come back to a messy kitchen and un-clean pots/pans for the team cooking dinner that evening, which was frustrating (to say the very least) and we had no good way of getting them clean. (we were using different tubs for cleaning - one with water, one with soapy water, etc - but all the tubs ended up getting totally disgusting by the end of the day so people just didn't really use them...)
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Re: Advice for managing the kitchen?

Postby lemur » Tue Jul 17, 2012 6:45 pm

our kitchen has SOME shelf space, but not a ton.. to deal with this we usually ask that people donating to the meals (we decide on a menu before the event, and all of the campers sign up to donate a food item to bring for the meals beforehand) keep the food in their tent until its the day of the meal, when they are asked to bring it to the kitchen.. anything that is really spoilable, or something they fear might spoil is kept in the kitchen in our fridgez/freezers .. stuff like rice or cans of beans they are asked to keep until the day of the meal... that helps out a LOT with space.

our kitchen is a bring your own plate/forks/knives kitchen ..the only thing that is disposable is the chafing dish trays we use.... after the meal the campers clean their dishes in the wash station we have set up.

we have a kitchen sink.. but we dont use it for washing dishes... we have a big water tank that sits on top of a container 10 or so feet high and use gravity feed for the faucet.. as well as for a hose we attach (for the occasional washing of big huge pots or filling up of water coolers)

for getting rid of waste water we have a big gray water tank that gets pumped out by the same folks who pump out RVs..

to get the water IN that tank we use a regular house-hold sump pump. the sump pump sits in an old beer cooler which the sink drains in to..

our actual dish washing is done in 4 plastic bins which get dumped when they get nasty into a screened collander/china hat to make sure the chunky bits dont clog up the pump... ..using a sink to wash stuff wastes water... we empty the bins with water in them often.. at least 4-5 times a day..


i usually wake up around 9 or 10am.. go to the kitchen and post the menu/list of donations that people should bring for the days meal .....then i go through the fridges/freezers to make sure we have all the stuff we need for the meal.. locate stuff that might need to be thawed, clean the fridges of anything that spoiled and then the rest of the day, up until 3pm, i will check in on the kitchen periodically to make sure no disasters are occuring.. clean up stuff people left out.. and generally just make sure that the kitchen will be OK for when we start cooking at 4pm ....we usually serve at 8:30 or 9pm (thats when our camps work is done and everyone returns to the village) we serve for about 45minutes and cleanup usually ends around 10 to 11pm.

it might be different with just around 35 people.. but the size of the group that is dealt with in my camp it ends up being a semi-on-call thing all day to make sure the kitchen isnt going to shit. ..and it can happen fast... when i have had a day off it is amazing to see how much different things are when someone isnt babysitting all day..


here is a blurry picture of our wash station.. it is the best way we've found to keep things clean without wasting tons of water.. for the big huge pots we sometimes use a hose to wash stuff..:
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Re: Advice for managing the kitchen?

Postby DianeLaVoy » Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:26 pm

Hi, I'm one=half of an amazing 2-person camp (camplet?) that's looking to be adopted or associated with a larger camp. We are Puff (the Magic Dragon), and we're looking for a home! We are two 60-some-year-young ladies who, together, will be a truly memorable, gorgeous Puff--and one of us has a van called Honalee, of course. I plan to make lots of Venezuelan arepas to share, stuffed with little bursts of melted jalapeño colby cheese. We'd like to join up with a camp that would like us to cook with you - ideally on your griddle. How can we find a camp that would like us to join? BTW, I'm a virgin. The other half of Puff was at BM last year. The reason I'm responding here is because I'm very impressed by photos of an organized kitchen!
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