Shortly before Burning Man opened the gates to the playa this year, I sat in a loft in Downtown LA with Liana Bandziulis, Michael Clive and David Weidman, three burners who were putting the finishing touches on their theme camp – The Black Rock Bakery. (If that last sentence had you thinking, “Say what?!” then here’s a quick glossary to get you up to speed on your lingo.)
Burning Man – a yearly festival in the desert in which tens of thousands of participants gather in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert to create Black Rock City, dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. For one week out of the year, Black Rock City is the third largest city in Nevada.
The Playa – The dried up lake bed upon which Black Rock City is built.
Burners – people who attend burning man.
Theme Camps – optional participatory camps where groups of burners get together under one theme. There are everything from hallucinogenic drug theme camps to bike repair shop theme camps.
Village – a collection of theme camps that grows into a larger umbrella community
Now back to the story – so Bandziulis, Clive and Weidman spearheaded the Black Rock Bakery theme camp which is located in The French Quarter, one of the largest villages at Burning Man. Clive is an engineer, Weidman is a trained chef and Bandziulis has experience in tv production – it’s hard to find three better suited individuals to build a “brick and mortar” bakery from scratch in the middle of the Black Rock Desert.
They shipped out multiple ovens, a deep fryer, a three basin sink, KitchenAid mixers, refrigerators, immersion blenders, a marble slab for rolling out pastry, 400 pounds of dry ingredients, 500 gallons of liquid nitrogen and more to Black Rock City where they built a fully functioning bakery in the middle of the desert. The goal was to make everything from wedding cakes (yes people get married at Burning Man – click here to see images of the mobile chapel at Burning Man) to challah for Shabbat. Plus, the trio promised cronuts to individuals who helped fund the bakery and according to this instagram feed it looks like there was some success.
Hear the story of Black Rock Bakery below and if you want to see some blow-your-mind photos from this year’s festival, this link will surely do the trick.
*Photos courtesy of Scott Messer, a member of the Black Rock Bakery Theme Camp.