Our Humble Beginnings

In the spring of 2007, Keith “Colonel Angus” Rinzler sat in a restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia with his friend and well-known Burning Man artist, Zach Coffin, discussing, as they were often prone to do… Burning Man.

Zach described the challenges that Burning Man artists with reasonably-sized projects face by explaining that they arrive on the playa during the week prior to Burning Man’s official start, work 18 hours a day trying to build or install their art piece, and most of them, especially the smaller and newer crews, have little time or energy left to think much about food. Consequently, their energy, enthusiasm, vitality, happiness, and overall experience diminish more each day as they feed themselves with whatever pre-packaged, processed junk foods they can grab if they even eat at all until finally, they are so exhausted and burnt out that when the festival actually begins in earnest, they are too worn out to enjoy it.

To which, Keith, in his typical straightforward entrepreneurial style said,

“Let me get this straight…

The artists of Burning Man arrive on the playa early and work their asses off, 18 hours a day or more, to produce incredible works of art that ALL Burning Man participants can enjoy. In the process, even with all the talent and resources that are available on the playa, many of them half starve to death, or at the very least work themselves into the ground and spend a good portion of the actual Burning Man event recovering. THAT’S Bullshit! Let’s do something about it.”

To which, Zach responded, “Breathe Keith, breath.”

Then Keith called his good friend and professional chef, Jean-Pierre “Chef JP” Weingarten, in San Rafael, CA, and described his idea for a grass-roots program during the pre-event setup week, in which theme camps’ kitchens could gift meals to these artists and their crews, as they were setting up their installations, and… … … “Feed the Artists” was born.

To Feed or To Be Fed…

When we started (gave birth to, in fertility parlance) Feed the Artists in 2007, we said we wanted to create a program that would introduce the BM populace to the concept of “creating community through the sharing of meals,” and then back out and let the community take it from there. Over the years, FtA dinners have run the gamut from a few dust-covered participants offering a meal to small groups of artists to exotic extravaganzas filled with five-course meals, opera singers, and futuristic aerialists provided for hundreds of artists. Over 8000 people have been fed by over 400 theme camps during that time, so we feel we’ve been pretty successful at introducing the “Radical Collaboration” meme to the burner community. And now, we’re ready to back out and hand it over to YOU, all the citizens of BRC!