Its full name is the Glorious Gastronomic Galactic Griddle, but that’s a bit of a mouthful and nobody can remember it, so we just call it the G Spot. It has a complete commercial kitchen in the front and a dining room in the back with room for 12 people to sit around a single table. Underneath it has enough water, propane, and electricity to serve quite a lot of food totally off-grid. Outside it’s this weird spiky metal thing.
We started with a 1996 Thomas School Bus we found on Craigslist. One part had fallen off of the engine, but otherwise it was perfect for us. Someone had even pulled out most of the seats already.
Planning the kitchen took months. Replacing the floor took months. (It was kind of a disaster, but came out great.) The closer we got to the deadline the faster we worked, and soon the whole kitchen was done, including water and propane plumbing and what must be miles of wiring. For Fourth of July 2017 we drove down to Nevada to test out its ability to drive heavy and cook at altitude and in the heat. The engine overheated on the hills, and the fridge and freezer totally failed on us in the heat, but everything else was perfect. We added in an air conditioner ducted over the fridge and freezer elements, totally fixing that problem. We decided to only drive up big hills at night. (Pretty common with these old school bus art projects.) That one part on the engine keeps falling off despite some pretty sophisticated efforts to keep it bolted on, but at least we are getting good at putting it back on.
In the last two months of the project we put on the outside design. First we added a wooden frame to support it, then a strip of metal raised above the wood by a certain margin. We obsessively measured the whole thing, designed each pyramid in SolidWorks, and then had each triangle laser cut and bent by a shop.
At the end of August 2017 we took the G Spot to Burning Man and assembled it for the first time. The whole thing took us just a day and a half to put together, despite some pyramids not fitting and a lot of time spent fixing places where our LED ribbon lights were shorting to the frame. (Lesson: don’t buy the cheapest LED’s.)
For the week of Burning Man we took the bus out for three shifts a day. Our team of four chefs cooked a different meal on each shift. Some meals were fancy, intimate productions where 12 people sat together for 45 minutes and were served several courses. Other times we handed out hundreds of brats or quesadillas or breakfast burritos. In total we served well over 1000 meals to unsuspecting passers-by, all of whom were delighted to be fed. (There is no money exchange within Burning Man; all of this food was handed out for free, for no better reason than because we love feeding people.)
As of September 2017 we are figuring out what we want to do next with our restaurant and our amazing team. There are so many possibilities!