Feeding Twenty Three Thousand

I’m an IT Professional, and as part of my job, I go to a technical conference every year. This year I had the pleasure of attending Ignite. Ignite is put on by Microsoft, and it’s huge. There were 23,000 attendees this year. 23,000 IT sys admins, developers, engineers, and managers. It’s fun and you learn a lot about upcoming products and technologies.

But I want to talk about the food of course. The conference fee includes breakfast and lunch. I can only imagine the logistics of trying to feed 23,000 people. It’s got to be a massive undertaking. And as you can imagine, just getting that many people in line to get their food, and setting up tables is a job that requires a lot of staff. The hall where the food is served is gigantic. It’s mind blowing how big it is.

The food is terrible. Anything hot has to be made hours in advance, where it sits in chafing dishes degrading. The hot food is really not worth eating. It makes prison food look good. The cold food is better, as they can keep it chilled until just an hour or so before it’s served.

I ate the breakfast the first day, and swore it off for the rest of the conference. I ate the lunch twice. By the third day I just couldn’t do it any more, and made the long walk outside the conference center to a local eatery.

Here’s a few photos I took, with some commentary.

To the right is breakfast the first day.

You can see row and rows of tables with chafing dishes set up, stretching hundreds of feet.

This is just one row of tables. There is another long row on the other side of the hall.

To the far right is the line of attendees. The tables are opened one at a time. Everyone is sent to the end of the hall. Gradually working backward, new tables are opened as the current ones empty.

People are then sent to the other side of the hall where the menagerie continues. This goes on for at least an hour as people steadily stream in.


This is a lunch line. It’s several people wide and hundreds of feet long. This line is headed all the way to the back of the hall. It moves at a leisurely pace. Notice the apprehension on peoples faces as they are about to be tortured with bad food.

Another view of the food line. The gentleman in purple, in the middle of the shot is directing traffic.

Here’s Monday’s lunch menu. Don’t be fooled by the fancy descriptions, it ain’t that fancy.


This is the above lunch, ready to disappoint the thousands. Stacks and stacks of delicious sandwiches ready to be eaten thrown away.


Notice the devilish look on her face. She’s eaten the food and knows what we’re in for.

From bottom left clockwise:

The sandwich was ok. I threw out half the bread and mostly ate the fillings. The bread was dry and chewy.

The pasta salad was bland. Shoelaces have more flavor.

The cheddar and tomato pie was pretty tasty. It was the best thing I ate at the conference center all week.

The pound cake was disgusting. It had a very strange gummy texture. I almost threw up after eating it.


Tuesday was May 5th, Cinco de Mayo. So of course they did a Mexican theme for lunch.

From bottom left clockwise:

Jicama, orange, and basil salad. It was mushy and bland.

Some kind of cold corn salad. It was ok I guess, but then when your expectations are so low anything short of dog crap tastes good.

Salsa. Typical jarred crap.

The corn tamale was terrible. Dry, with a crumbly texture, and off flavor, and it was cold.

Mahi mahi with mango/red pepper salsa. Cook a piece of fish, then leave it in a hot pan for 6 hours and you can imagine how incredibly dry and chewy it was. The corn husk from the tamale was looking good after eating this.

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