Bumbershoot: Behind the scenes with catering army
What goes on behind the scenes with the head caterer at the Bumbershoot festival.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Twelve thousand cups of coffee fuel Bumbershoot.
As well as a small army of volunteers — wielding more than 345 pounds of cheese, 1,000 bags of chips and 40 gallons of salsa. It's not a sexy job, but somebody needs to feed those hungry artists at the three-day music and arts festival.
"When you have happy artists, you get a good performance and a happy crowd," said Jesse Parry, festival catering co-manager. "It comes full circle."
From sunup to sundown, 40-some volunteers, two interns and eight staff members don latex gloves and work in assembly lines, slicing and dicing. The day starts with coffee at 7 a.m. Golf carts and a refrigerated truck drive nosh to the different stages. Everybody gets snacks — plates of sliced meat, cheese, hummus, pita, coffee, tea and water. Hummus is a favorite — all 60 pounds of it.
"We can't get enough of hummus," said Parry, who has managed Bumbershoot catering for the past three years and with her husband, Zach, owns Pel'Meni, a restaurant with branches in Juneau, Alaska and Bellingham. "The festival is fueled on chips and salsa, and pita and hummus." After the nosh deliveries, artists start arriving at 10 a.m. This is when special deliveries take place.
Who gets what specifically, Bumbershoot can't disclose due to confidentiality agreements, but there are orders for ale, roses with thorns removed, French candles, Trix cereal, Tofurky (a vegetarian deli alternative), Kombucha tea and coconut milk.
The work is "kind of like being a mom," said Renee Lopez, a volunteer who has gotten her two daughters to volunteer as well. The Bellevue nutritionist has volunteered for three years. It's her way into Bumbershoot cheaply — eight hours of volunteering earns a day pass to the festival.
All the orders are taken down before the festival, then scheduled, and noted in three "bibles."
Then, coolers filled with beer — labeled with the band, the time and the kind of ale — accompanied by plates of food — go out by hand trolley, staff weaving through crowds of fans, to the stage.
Everything is stored behind the scenes in a makeshift warehouse and kitchen. Refrigerators and ovens are secondhand, found on Craigslist and tagged with drawings.
"The beast [a large refrigerator] has horns," said Zach Parry, catering co-manager. "It's been through hell and back."
And after everything is delivered, it starts again the next day with coffee, brewed by a machine that pumps out 18 gallons per hour.
"I love the energy of the crowd," said Jesse Parry. "But I also love the mornings, when everything is clean and fresh, and we open up for the next day."
Marian Liu: 206-464-3825 or email@example.com
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