food&beverage&bio hacking activities

Food Hacking at 30c3

“Once upon a time”, Chaos Computer Club initiated the yearly hacker meetings, congresses if you like, of which many of you are the current, past and hopefully future participants. It was a great time for us as Food Hacking Base (fhb) in the last several years, with this event being truly crucial for what we do and how we do it getting in to a full action.

As you can remember from our crowdsourcing campaign our goals were to build up an experimental kitchen and workshop venue which would be suitable for variety of food and beverage hacking and open to the public, something what we have done on previous outdoor events but never on the indoor event really. Well I think that after the event we can say that we have managed, thank you for your help and definitely many thanks to the CCC orga who supported us in many ways!

Now lets talk a bit about what was going on, at least the parts which I’m aware of, things got bit busy as they usually do 🙂 but there was plenty of time for the others to share their experiences here so it should be quite compact. Thanks to OpenLab in Augsburg, Moritz Bartl and his hackerbus which he lend to us we have managed to pick up the fhb gear from previous events stored at my parents place in Kout na Šumavě, Czech Republic and moved on for Brmlab, one of my favorite hackerspaces located in Prague. We have prepared here for 30c3 for few days, starting our Kombucha cosmopolita batch etc. We left Brmlab on 23/12 and arrived to Hamburg on 24th of January just in time to help to prepare with the CCC crew Christmas dinner and also do the basic ingredient shopping which we wanted to have ready for the event. So to conclude the transportation with the hackerbus worked out well, saved our lots of money and time, next time arrival on 22nd or 23th (as previously planned) would be better if not earlier (the mode of transport for next event has to be discussed).

On 25th we have been getting things ready for the build up of the base, luckily getting access from the orga to the “left over” wood and other materials from their build up, which helped us enormously, Lucas and his coordination is to thank in particular. In the evening Marcel and Dann arrived and we managed to “transfer the duties” because I had to leave for Augsburg to pick up Moritz and his friends from OpenLabs spending basically whole 26th on the road, coming back to Hamburg around 10pm. When back most of the tables were ready, ingredients stocked, place  organized, many thanks to Eunha, Marcel, Daan, Bravo, Ingo and others for their help it was crucial push for the project. Next day – day 1 we have managed to set up the sinks (borrowed from CCC/members) properly on the linoleum so all waterproofed as promised. We have installed the “presentation” desk where we have been offering free tasters “donations appreciated” during the event and the multimedia corner was used continuously, the printer definitely helped! From other stuff we have got rest of the ingredients, induction friendly pans which we have been missing and variety of other smaller or bigger things. Our 30c3 wikies were down for whole day (as anyone else’s), next day (day 2) it was thankfully restored so our workshops were properly announced and we could rock and roll.

Concerning the reflections during the event well … We were short of few pairs of hands, many times no one promoted our activities at our presentation area because people were busy with other activities in the base, hopefully we will have more “human power” next time. Sometimes it was too intensive for the people involved, too many things to do at the same time, which was bit stressful. I’ve been coordinating the night shift catering for CCC volunteers from 9 or 10 pm till 6-7 am which was bit demanding, we will see how to sort that out for the future events, several people involved with fhb told me directly that I should be more around, which I think is true.

Based on the numbers of participants of the workshops at fhb we have been running on the max of our capacity most of the time, the place became quite popular as at OHM2013 but this time more focused on experimenting and workshop activities rather than catering – still we kept ourselves well fed. The separate experimental kitchen was a good idea, just during some workshops it was too busy especially if it was used by people who were not involved with us before, however with the “members” of the fhb community preparing other stuff during the workshops it was generally fine and not really interfering.

One thing which was really nice and we should plan on that more in the future, or coming back to our “roots” were the thematic dinners. We did that at OHM and 2011 CCC camp in Finowfurt and kind of naturally got to it at 30c3 too. However it would be I think a good idea to decide on the dinners which we would like to have during the congress in advance and make again some booking system etc. with people helping/learning during the preparations and more people joining later on for eating, all donation based. I think it had a really nice dynamics and people really enjoyed it. We were using putting this in practice of food preparation workshops and consequent community dinners during our tour for our Korean healing table dinner and it worked great! I would definitely suggest international dinner for one of the days.

For the things which I think should be improved I was really missing a clear system of what ingredients are where and the same applies for tools and kitchen equipment. This was one of the major drawbacks for both newly involved people and the “grizzled crew” and we really need to take care about that during next events, it will make our lives so much more easy and all activities much more efficient and fun. Proper shelves and labels/pictures what belongs to where and “checking out” that things are return to the place where they live is really important I think. It should not take us too long to take care about that if we do it on the day 0 having some lamination machine to our disposition or something like that and enough material for building the shelves.

Suggestions for next event:

  • Schedule of our events at 31c3 with log in/sign up system kept up to date on our FHB wiki in case that the 31c3 wiki goes down again
  • Proper shelf system should be installed with labels and “drawings” what belongs to where before the day 1.
  • Whole area should be covered with linoleum and good industrial style mops and brooms should be ready at hand to keep it continuously clean.
  • Extra sink or dish wash machine should be arranged with drying area (or lots of towels purchased for drying).
  • At least two fridges should be installed, or several smaller scale peltier fridges build (would be really cool).
  • Better coordination with CCC orga could help us especially with synchronizing the transport of thing to and from CCC congress.
  • Things like aprons which we use on daily bases with FHB logo on it should be supplied.
  • Using delivery system combining quadcopter and pneumatic tube system to target with food people and groups who we are close to would be really nice

What I liked most

Personally it made me most happy that we have managed to build up decent environment for food and beverage hacking on this indoor event, without some major issues. That was great, our main goal and we have proven that it is both doable and desirable setting an example for next events of this type, which I think is crucial.

Sincerely for Food Hacking Base,

Frantisek Algoldor Apfelbeck

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