People buy bowls of soup at downtown Prescott event aimed at helping feed the hungry

Handcrafted ceramic bowls await their chance to be filled at the Empty Bowls event Sunday, Sept. 13, in downtown Prescott. (Photos by Arlene Hittle/The Daily Courier)

Handcrafted ceramic bowls await their chance to be filled at the Empty Bowls event Sunday, Sept. 13, in downtown Prescott. (Photos by Arlene Hittle/The Daily Courier)

Bowls didn't stay empty for long as folks crowded courthouse plaza in downtown Prescott Sunday, Sept. 13, for the 18th annual Empty Bowls event.

The popular event, sponsored by the Granite Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation and Prescott Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, benefits five quad-city food banks. For $15, attendees got their choice of handcrafted ceramic bowls, two bowls of soup, a roll and bottled water.

Event Chairwoman Eunice Ricklefs said people started to line up by 9:30 in the morning. The line stretched down Gurley Street, around the corner and halfway up Montezuma Street.

"They brought folding chairs to sit in line," Ricklefs said, adding that the early birds likely wanted the best selection of the more than 900 ceramic bowls donated to the event by local potters.

Once attendees chose their bowls, volunteers from Girl Scout Troop 1565 washed the pieces to prep them for filling. Boy Scout Troop 10 helped set up and the Granite Peak UU Youth passed out rolls and water, Ricklefs said.

Fifteen chefs from local restaurants as far away as Jerome served up bowls of lobster bisque; coconut carrot curry; green chili corn chowder; farmer's vegetable; gazpacho; royal curried cauliflower; posole; butternut squash; chicken tortilla; loaded potato, jalapeno and bacon; vegan white miso; prime three-bean; golden mushroom; and Scottish Cockaleekie.

Chef Todd Bulock is the event's chef liaison. He said he got involved for the first time 16 years ago, when he participated. Since then, he's worked with participating chefs. There are 14 every year, with one swapped out.

Ricklefs said that in 2014, the event raised $15,000 between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. "We're hoping the rain will stay off and we'll do as well."

Gretchen Phelps, a five-year resident of Prescott, is a member of Granite Peak UU. She attends every year. She was about to dig into a bowl of vegetable soup from Slow Food of Prescott, which smelled wonderful.

Kathy Swern and her sister, Lorraine Macchione, came up to Prescott from Phoenix specifically for the Empty Bowls event. Macchione read about it in a magazine down there.

"We thought this would be a nice way to get out of the heat and give back a little," said Swern, who sampled the loaded potato, jalapeno and bacon soup, provided by Chef Terri Matson of Murphy's Restaurant, and the three-bean soup from Chef Sam Hancock of the Hassayampa Inn.

"It was so good," Swern said of the bean soup, which was topped with sour cream, cheese and onions. "I'm full now.

Macchione tried the three-bean soup and the coconut carrot curry from The Mine Café in Jerome.

"They were both excellent," she said, adding that the bean soup was more "stick-to-your-ribs."

Tranise Trout of Prescott attended Empty Bowls with her husband, Terry, and grandson, Joey.

"This is our fifth year coming," she said. "We love to support this event."

Joey ate bowls of the lobster bisque - the offering from Chef Julia Rodriguez of Prescott Lobster & Seafood - and the loaded potato soup. He said he preferred the potato soup, which was also Tranise's favorite. Her other selection was the golden mushroom soup from Chef Rob Mackey at The Local.

Terry, not much for potatoes in soup, got the green chili corn chowder from Chef Denise Atkins of the Blackboard Café in Prescott Valley and the posole by Chef Barry Barbe of El Gato Azul.

"Posole's always the best," Terry said.

The Trout family planned to stick around for the end of the silent auction and perhaps take home an item.

"It's just nice to be out enjoying the day," Tranise said.

Follow Arlene Hittle on Twitter @ahittle_dc. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 2036, or 928-830-2928.