Dinner time!

What is required to produce 6,500 meals daily in the middle of the pampa? We were keen to find out more about how catering works on the Dakar Rally. It is run by the specialist company Sodexo.

Francisco was our guide for this tour of the bivouac kitchens. “We have two catering trucks here: on one side is the cold room where we keep the desserts, fruits and vegetables, while on the other side is the kitchen where we heat up food that has been prepared in advance, bake bread and make pasta from scratch. We produce 170kg of pasta and 200kg of bread every day.

“We have three sets of two semi-trailer trucks that work in relay format. The basic foodstuffs are transported by two refrigerated trucks from Buenos-Aires on a daily basis, while fruit is purchased on-site. In Bolivia, the catering was handled by a Sodexo subcontractor.

“Sixty people work for Sodexo throughout the rally, supported by an additional 20 or so independent contractors from the nearest town or city. They are split into three different teams: set-up, 10am-10pm and 10pm-10am. We serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a permanent supply of snacks. The menus are composed in advance by Sodexo and ASO in accordance with the relevant nutritional requirements – we do not, for example, serve the same type of food at an altitude of 3,600m as we did in Paraguay.

“We also make an effort to introduce participants to typical dishes from each region or country, such as surubi (fish) in Bolivia, or bife de chorizo here in Argentina. When we put on a BBQ for the Dakar bivouac, we get through some 450kg of meat! The next one will be in Rio Cuarto.”

In the meantime, Francisco has a problem to resolve: one of the catering trucks found itself caught up in the landslide north of Jujuy, calling for an improvised outdoor kitchen to spring into action in the bivouac in San Juan...

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