• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

base camp dining hall / feeding the masses  RSS feed

 
Jocelyn Campbell
steward
Posts: 4205
Location: Missoula, MT
393
books food preservation forest garden hugelkultur toxin-ectomy
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We feed a lot of people at wheaton labs base camp - on average this year, 15 people, 3 meals per day. This goes with our larger permaculture kitchen goals, but in the mean time, I could use some help with some logistics and new ideas.

As you can see from this pic, our little doublewide kitchen maxes out at seating about 13 people - and that's with a little table crammed in on one side of the island there.



Down the driveway from the doublewide (maybe a 15% grade, and some distance) is a large metal "shop" type building that Paul prefers to call the auditorium. We have workshops in there, movie nights (see the sound and projector for the auditorium thread) and use it as a dining hall. You know, in addition to all the shop and construction-y uses that happen there, too.



Currently, we have three banquet tables, plenty of folding chairs (see also the chairs for the auditorium thread), and now Justin built a wood picnic table and benches. We will need to seat and feed around 50 later this month.



We have glass dishes, cheap stainless utensils, plus salt & pepper shakers that we keep in a covered box just for "dining hall" use, not for the house.

We will need more dishes and utensils. See the thread about glass plates and bowls that Paul started.



There is no sink or hot water at the auditorium (and no plans to install such at this juncture), so we often set up a dish washing station with bins of water. Using a pocket rocket to heat the water is okay, though it takes a bit of time and attention.

We don't exactly have one of these electric food trucks, (pic originally posted in our keeping food warm for events thread),



...though we do have other electric vehicles to run the food back and forth between the house and the shop. And we decided to simply let the food cool off. If you don't get to the meal on time, your food will be cold!

Another thing we do is send lunches, complete with breakable dishes, up to the lab with folks when they will be working the full day there. We fill coolers and bus tubs, and they bounce away on gravel and dirt roads in the electric vehicles and the dishes sometimes break. (Note that Paul really, really wants the least toxic everything possible - read his thread on glass dishes, linked above.) He is thinking we might need thicker glass plates.

Even with all of this furniture, supplies, and e-vehicles to help, it's still a pain to cook in the kitchen and ferry the entire meal down to the auditorium, or up to the lab, and then return the leftovers and such back up the driveway to the doublewide. I'd like to brainstorm some ways we could optimize feeding the masses here.

Ideas?
 
Dave Burton
pollinator
Posts: 1026
Location: Greater Houston, TX US Hardy:9a Annual Precipitation: 44.78" Wind:13.23mph Temperature:42.5-95F
109
bike books forest garden tiny house transportation urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Please may you draw a picture of the layout between each area. I am having trouble picturing this in my head.

Is it a straight path, curvy path, zigzaged, etc? How far apart is everything from each other? Where are the basecamp, auditorium, and kitchen located in relation to each other?
 
Ken Peavey
steward
Posts: 2524
Location: FL
89
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The current kitchen at basecamp, from what I can tell, is a standard American kitchen designed for use by a typical nuclear family of 2 parents an 3.14159 kids.
If I understand the nature of the situation you need to service the demands of a larger group every day, in various locations, plus the occasional large group.

I think looking at the challenge through the lens of a caterer/concession will provide the solution.

1 Construct a production kitchen
Locating this inside the auditorium takes from the limited space available. Construction projects in the auditorium will require extensive cleanup before the kitchen could be used.
Construction inside basecamp does not look to be practical.
Construction near the auditorium seems to make the best sense for logistics. The greatest demand would be when the greatest number of people are involved, which puts them in the auditorium at least part of the day.
Attached to the auditorium as a lean to structure would work by extending the roofline, making good use of existing walls, plumbing, electric and heating systems. This has the advantage of utilizing process heat from cooking operations to heat the auditorium. A free standing structure is also possible.
An interior width of 15' would allow 2' wide countertops on each wall with a 4' work area in the center, and 3' wide pathways. A length of 20 feet allows 2 doors, entry and exit.
Meals served buffet style can be accommodated with the buffet down the center, access from one side by the diners, access by staff on the other, with single direction traffic.
Food production equipment involving heat and sharp edges on the wall away from the doors enhances safety.
The auditorium serves double duty as the dining room. Those bus tubs of which you speak can be utilized for quick clean up and transition back to an auditorium.
If the food is to head out the door, the central workstation serves as the expediting station for loading containers which are loaded into the food wagon.

This production kitchen is a considerable investment. $10k and up is not at all unimaginable. All I'm doing is proposing an idea that I don't have to pay for. The area I mentioned will handle a whole lot more than 50 people, giving you the room to grow and adapt as well as store equipment. At some point you'll need a space to process all the yummy goodness being harvested. This space would serve you well.


2 Construct or purchase a food wagon.
Rough terrain, harsh weather, and primitive conditions is the template.
The function of the food wagon is to shuttle food and equipment, maintain temperatures, provide utility.
A handwashing station is surely a part of the design. Water storage is a simple matter and can be filled with hot/warm water at the production kitchen. Insulation will keep it warm for a while. Add plumbing to a sink, greywater from there. The sink may or may not be connected to the food wagon.
A folding table on each side, perhaps connected with a hinge, offers a service station. Seating can be as simple as lumber and posts, or folding chairs. At work I lug my lunch in a 5 gallon bucket with a lid. It's an instant seat. If I have a seat, it serves as my table.
Maintaining temperatures is a matter of insulated and easily cleaned compartments. Loading the food immediately prior to the shuttle run does not allow much time to heat up or cool off. The only real problem here is containers for the food to prevent splashes and spills while traversing the rough roads. Good shocks, straps, and bungee cords will go a long way towards stability. Menu selection offers an advantage as well. Stews are splashy, goulash sticks to the container and to your ribs. Liquid/drink containers are easy to come by.
If all you need to do is get the food from point A to point B without a mess and don't need furniture, mason jars with caps is easy to do. They'll handle hot or cold contents, seal tight, are difficult to break, can be shipped in compartmentalized crates, and the diner can eat from them directly with regular sized utensils.
If you have more money than Davy Crockett, there are concession trailers out there.

--

 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1667
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
54
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What about using a traditional haybox to keep stuff warm, or to slow cook stews and things? Perhaps make a trailer mounted haybox so you can load food hot into it at the house, it can be driven down the hill and just stay in the trailer until you are ready to serve it.

As good insulating box can keep food properly hot for ages.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
steward
Posts: 4205
Location: Missoula, MT
393
books food preservation forest garden hugelkultur toxin-ectomy
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ken Peavey wrote:The current kitchen at basecamp, from what I can tell, is a standard American kitchen designed for use by a typical nuclear family of 2 parents an 3.14159 kids.
If I understand the nature of the situation you need to service the demands of a larger group every day, in various locations, plus the occasional large group.

1 Construct a production kitchen

2 Construct or purchase a food wagon.
--


Yes.

It is on our list to construct an outdoor kitchen, which could/should be more amendable to larger meal production. Unfortunately, an outdoor kitchen will not be constructed any time this year. And, yes, we have looked at food wagon (or trailer) or skiddable structure ideas for easily moving a kitchen to where activities are taking place.

There are not funds in the near future for production kitchen facilities.

All of which means, we need to deal with what we've got for at least a year or more.


 
Jocelyn Campbell
steward
Posts: 4205
Location: Missoula, MT
393
books food preservation forest garden hugelkultur toxin-ectomy
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Michael Cox wrote:What about using a traditional haybox to keep stuff warm, or to slow cook stews and things? Perhaps make a trailer mounted haybox so you can load food hot into it at the house, it can be driven down the hill and just stay in the trailer until you are ready to serve it.

As good insulating box can keep food properly hot for ages.

Yes.

While we currently have a lot of trailers, we don't have one we can dedicate or mount a haybox or food things onto - yet.

We are learning to use a haybox - though the one built by Sam is definitely NOT portable (without a trailer). We also have an electric roaster, and crockpots, that, while using electricity, can be plugged into power at the auditorium to keep things warm.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
steward
Posts: 4205
Location: Missoula, MT
393
books food preservation forest garden hugelkultur toxin-ectomy
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dave Burton wrote:Please may you draw a picture of the layout between each area. I am having trouble picturing this in my head.

Is it a straight path, curvy path, zigzaged, etc? How far apart is everything from each other? Where are the basecamp, auditorium, and kitchen located in relation to each other?


For you Dave, I made a crappy pic. Obviously, none of it is to scale.

base-camp-layout-lame-drawing.png
[Thumbnail for base-camp-layout-lame-drawing.png]
 
Dave Burton
pollinator
Posts: 1026
Location: Greater Houston, TX US Hardy:9a Annual Precipitation: 44.78" Wind:13.23mph Temperature:42.5-95F
109
bike books forest garden tiny house transportation urban
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I hope these do not sound too crazy; here are some ideas I am thinking of:

**the following idea is drawn in orange on the map**
-a zipline to shuttle food downhill by the force of gravity
-a bike-pedal system for the uphill zipline (or it could be powered by something else?)
-this could be implemented in a variety of ways depending on what is desired- from very simple and very low cost to whatever, it just depends

**the following idea is drawn in purple on the map**
-a wooden rail and cart system with a bumper on the end could shuttle goods downhill by gravity
-a tiny little stream with a tiny canoe could float the objects downhill

**the following is drawn in pink on the map***
-a more direct path or tunnel could send objects uphill
-like an underground rail and cart system

-stacking functions: if a tiny stream is built, a trompe could be built into it to harvest the stream's energy and create pressurized air to shoot things uphill along a zipline or track

***edit: more ideas but crazier than the first ones***

**not labelled on the map**

-big hollowed out logs could be installed with latches and let loose to run down the slope to deliver non-delicate food items (cushioning might save the glassware?)
-more things could be installed onto the logs for heating and cooling

-a hollow cob boulder with latch could be made and allowed to run down the slope with a cushion at the end of the path

-for more control, a designated ditch or path could be made for things to roll down

-the craziest idea I have: a catapult
path-ideas.jpg
[Thumbnail for path-ideas.jpg]
 
R Scott
Posts: 3351
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
32
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
1. need an alternative to glass for the trips to the lab. We use stainless steel PIE PANS as our plates/bowls--learned that trick from our Amish neighbors. Stainless pie pans are cheaper than plates, although you can get surplus school/prison (is there a difference?) trays even cheaper.

2. you can buy lunch wagons or fair carts (commercial kitchen in a bus or breadtruck) about the scrap value of the stainless steel inside them, especially if you buy one with mechanical problems or not quite up to the newest code--Tim can weld up a tow hitch and it is a chuck wagon. Cheaper than trailers. Park it outside the auditorium.

3. E&E&Paul should be able to build a RMH-powered steam table to keep food warm. Eventually.

4. Standardize on pot and pan sizes so the hayboxes are universal.

5. watch craigslist, sometimes you can buy a whole catering business (or enough to seem like it) for a crazy good price.

 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 4028
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
172
bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I know you said that funds were short , and you have probably seen these but...

http://missoula.craigslist.org/bfd/4638067454.html

http://missoula.craigslist.org/bfd/4630011383.html

Maybe we could do a permies fundraiser?
 
Ken Peavey
steward
Posts: 2524
Location: FL
89
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
For the 50 people event, how many days will this go on?

Shift Dining
Back in college we had 40 guys in a fraternity but only 20 seats in the dining room. The solution was to dine in shifts. There was a 6PM seating and a 6:30 seating. Eat your food, clear your table, make room for the next wave. It looks like there is no problem with auditorium seating. This method can double the dining capacity of basecamp.

For the 50 people event, and events to follow, developing a standard meal plan can allow duplication using the same equipment. Menu selection can offer a workaround for some of the equipment, but some equipment may still be needed initially. Refrigeration strikes me as a limiting factor. 50 people can consume 250 pounds of foodstuffs in a day, much of which will need cool storage before and after preparation. Foods which can be served cold can be prepared ahead of time and stored, clearing cooking equipment for use at service time.
Ice companies have ice storage trailers available for rent. Example is 6'x8', 4 days for (HOLY COW) $595.
That dog don't hunt.
The idea is sound. Perhaps an icebox is the answer. Sacks of ice can be had cheaply. Stored in a small space an impromptu icebox can be put together with rudimentary materials. Erect a frame, cover with a tarp, lots of hay for insulation. Is there a suitable space on that slope which can be excavated to serve as a cold storage pit? If you can keep the bears away, this may be something to consider.

I'm thinking this idea could develop into an icehouse. Cold storage all year with ice sourced from local surface water or produced on site.

Getting back to menu selection...
Side dishes can be prepared ahead and held in cold storage until service. Potato or pasta salad comes to mind. Whip it up early, the stove is available for meal time.
Desserts and treats: jello, pudding, PIE, muffins.
Entrees prepared in volume: meatloaf for example, bake a couple big pans of 10 pounds each, you've got an entree ready to head out the door.
Pasta can be cooked ahead of time, rapidly cooled in an ice water bath, drained and stored. To reheat, a pot of boiling water, fill a basket with pasta, dip in the boiling water for a minute, drain into a bucket.
Salad is a given. Cut vegetables will hold up well. Remember the couple with the cold water running down tubing inside an old fridge?
Sandwiches are easy. Set out the bread, cold cuts, cheeses, vegetables, condiments, diners prepare their own sandwiches as they move through the line. A line on 2 sides of a table will move them along in good time.
Tacos have very little hot ingredients, the rest is cut vegetables begging to be salad at the next meal.

Breakfast
Continental style is probably the easiest way to serve 50 people. Breads, rolls, muffins, bagels, donuts/donots, juice and coffee. Add fruits, jams, butter. If hot items are desired scrambled eggs and pancakes can be produced in batches using a propane camp stove. The lower heat requirements hopefully won't generate smoke to fill the auditorium. If you get into bacon, cooking inside the auditorium can make a mess.

Lunch
Day 1: tacos, fruit salad
Day 2: sandwiches, pasta salad
Brown Bag: prepared sandwich, hard boiled egg, small canning jar of rice pudding, fruit

Dinner
Day 1: Meatloaf, gravy in a slow cooker, potato salad, tossed salad (leftovers from tacos), bread/rolls, PIE
Day 2: Zuke Parmesan, pasta, sauce in a slow cooker, garlic bread, tossed salad, rice pudding

Drinks
Ice tea can be produced and stored ahead of time in just about any container available.
Fruit/vegetable juice
Coffee (it makes my world go 'round)
Milk
Cider
Lemonade
Kombucha



 
Dave Burton
pollinator
Posts: 1026
Location: Greater Houston, TX US Hardy:9a Annual Precipitation: 44.78" Wind:13.23mph Temperature:42.5-95F
109
bike books forest garden tiny house transportation urban
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Regarding food, I found on the Internet a results for no cook recipes, recipes served cold, a cook's thesaurus on ingredients and tools, and more served cold recipes on a website dedicated to everything food.
 
Ken Peavey
steward
Posts: 2524
Location: FL
89
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Some of those items look pretty tasty, Dave. I'm staring at the antipasto wraps right now thinking something like it would be an ideal lunch item.
Regular basecamp meals would serve as the testing for new dishes. I'm sure the Kitchen Commander has already produced some fine meals which can be duplicated for a larger group.
A plan is developing:

-Select items which can be produced on site with equipment available.
-Assemble a menu using those items.
-Repeat the menu at each event, scaled according to population.

All this allows planning to be streamlined. Repeating the menu at the next event has a staff already trained in setting up and preparing those dishes. Equipment and wares can be placed ahead of time.
With each repetition, items can be improved, production simplified/streamlined, less successful items replaced, popular items expanded. Documenting the project would be handy.
The volume of product being prepared would become more accurate, resulting in less waste and fewer leftovers to pack away.




 
Lorenzo Costa
steward
Posts: 801
Location: Italy, Siena, Gaiole in Chianti zone 9
207
books forest garden trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
All the idea's sound great and you have the power to achieve a lot at wheaton labs, but I would just do something simple for the time beeing. what's the measure of the kitchen at wheaton labs? I think if you turn the table put a bench long the wall, build a new table maybe narrower you could put two tables turning there disposition around, using tha island as a buffet or support table for the serving big dishs
then you can think about next years works in the auditorium.
if you say you don't have time now it's better to try simply use the space in tha base lab kitchen in a more ideal way. but I still would need the real measurement of the space.
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
88
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
R Scott wrote:1. need an alternative to glass for the trips to the lab. We use stainless steel PIE PANS as our plates/bowls

There ya go!
R Scott wrote:3. E&E&Paul should be able to build a RMH-powered steam table to keep food warm. Eventually

In the meantime, how about a plain old electric bain marie?
It would only work for the auditorium, (assuming there's spare electricity there of course )
The ones I linked are flash, but you can get cheap, second-hand ones.
Not 'eco' in any particular way, but they're usually stainless steel, and cheap as anything to run.

Actual cooking is done in the main kitchen, and humped/driven down to the auditorium hot.
You can either cook things in the bain marie inserts in the main oven (think lasagna)
or make a big pot of xyz and tip it into the insert to keep warm.
The inserts (we always just called them 'bain maries') are used constantly in commercial kitchens-
just think 'really big all-round oven dish'...
 
Sam Barber
Posts: 641
Location: Missoula Mt
41
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In response to your email Jocelyn.
1. I think that for non-Workshop times we should avoid eating in the auditorium as much as possible. Instead when we have an influx of people or are crowded we should have a buffet style meal served from the island in the kirchen and then some people can eat on the picnic table outside.
2. Rick said that there is room for all of that stuff on a shelf in the auditorium.
3.We do have a few bins with lids. But if we want to have a dish washing set up with those same bins then we will need a few more.
4.I think that the flat bed golf cart is really good for transporting food to and from. I think the only optimization in that space would be to have meals transported down to the auditorium in well sealed containers I think the most time consuming part is the table setup and moving stuff around in the auditorium.
5.I think a dishwashing station at the auditorium would be really good. For hot water we could use the hot water from the compost showers to wash dishes. It would be best IMHO to run a hose from the Auditorium hydrant to the back door of the auditorium. there is currently a wood table behind the auditorium which would be perfect for a dish washing station.
6.I think the sink at the showers would be great for the hand washing station. However if we get the showers moved before the workshop then we would lose access to the hot water. Unless we built a super hot compost pile just for hot water for the shop.
7. I think if we combined the house plates with the workshop plates we would have enough. But I will check on that and see.
8. If we have the three round tables (banquet tables?) plus the picnic table that will give us a capacity of 32 spots that is assuming that we have 8 people at each table which I think is the capacity of those tables. So that means we would need one or two more tables.

 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1142
Location: northern northern california
70
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i agree with the above posters about cold food, salads, tacos, sandwiches, wraps, and other raw and easy no cook food. i have to eat my salads, so i have gotten better at making them not boring and more fufilling than the average salad, adding meat, avocados, berries, tuna salad, olives, and good cheese or something special like this makes them more interesting.

then one could load up the raw food and prepare them on a makeshift area wherever with a cutting board, and even lay out bowls of everything and let people mix and match salad bar style. maybe additionally bring a couple of hot items in a crock pot since you have those, soup, stew or a rice dish. maybe an electric kettle for hot tea/coffee. this is what i would be thinking about given those circumstances.
 
kadence blevins
Posts: 602
Location: SE Ohio
33
books goat hugelkultur rabbit tiny house wofati
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
No idea what sort of distance it covers but... instead of zipline why not have a crank or pedal? On a skilift type system? Basecamp loads dishes into hanging bins, auditorium cranks/pedals it down. When done just load back and crank back to basecamp.

I dont understand all of the mechanics of what would be needed for that but thought i would toss out my brainfart.
 
Ken Peavey
steward
Posts: 2524
Location: FL
89
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Catering jobs I have worked on very often had tubs and trays of food placed in the back of a minivan or SUV.
There is always the risk of spills and splashes. In order to help items stay upright, ice bags can be placed beside the cold items, but they don't splash so much. For the hot stuff, ziplock bags half filled with rice. Works like a beanbag.
Since keeping toxic gick out of the equation is desired, some socks filled with acorns would surely do the trick.

 
A feeble attempt to tell you about our stuff that makes us money
This is an example of the new permies.com Thread Boost feature
https://permies.com/wiki/61482/Thread-Boost-feature
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!