Great art, great soup, great cause this week
A soup kitchen will take over the Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza on Sunday, Sept. 13, for the 12th annual Empty Bowls fundraiser to feed the hungry.
Artisans from across the Prescott area have crafted colorful vessels that patrons can fill with savory soups du jour that local chefs are cooking up for the event that runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. With a $15 donation, diners will be able to choose their own handcrafted bowl and fill it up twice, and get a roll and bottled water to accompany their meal as well.
Here is what's cooking with the help of coordinator Chef Todd Bulock: farmer's market vegetables; gazpacho; wild mushrooms and rice; pasta fagioll; roasted butternut squash; Southwest chicken tortilla; savory cabbage; lobster bisque; chicken and cheese chowder; Ukranian beet borsht; bleu cheese tomato bisque; and cockaleekie.
Chefs who are busy stirring their pots of gourmet fare for the day include Barry Barbe of 129½ and El Gato Azul; Molly Beverly of Crossroads Café at Prescott College; Toni Burris of the Raven Café; Asta French of the Culinary Palate; Sam Hancock of the Hassayampa Inn; Dennis Martinez of the Prescott Brewing Co.; Judy May of the Iron Springs Café; Peter Miller of Trinity Gourmet Catering; Mary Glenn of Pathways International; Kevin Rowley of New Frontiers Natural Food Market; Steven Helland of Bill's Pizza; and Eric Knudsen.
Sponsors of the annual soup fest are the Prescott and Granite Peak Univeralist Unitarian congregations. Together they have collected more than 350 bowls crafted by local ceramicists, including Deanne Brewster of Art Escape Studio, Karen Van Price of Van Price Fine Art Gallery, Heath and Cathy Krieger, David McDonald, Fran Peterson, Gary Houston, James Frost, Tony Reynolds and many others. Prescott Area Wood Turners Fred Martenis, Jim Ward, Jim Muehleisen, Joe Carr and Don Jordon are among artists who have created nearly 100 wood bowls. More than 250 bowls will come from the Yavapai College Ceramic and Art center, where Laura Bloomenstein, art director, opened up the center's doors for local potters who don't have their own studios.
Local merchants have their hand in Empty Bowls, too. Sleep America, Costco, Safeway, Walmart, Sam's Club and New Frontiers are making bottled water and ice available, and Pangaea Bakery and Chino Valley's Subway have donated more than 1,000 rolls.
Boy Scout Troop No. 10 will set up tables and chairs that the City of Prescott Parks and Recreation Department has provided along with canopies that have been borrowed from friends of the organizers. Girl Scouts Troops No. 475 and No.1296 are busy washing bowls this week, and youths from the Granite Peak congregation will hand out rolls and water, sell raffle tickets and escort any disabled people to the front of the line.
Following tradition, Empty Bowls will feature a silent auction and specialty raffle items. Artists who have donated 40 or more auction items include Steve Appel's Bolt People, Huckeba Gallery, Newman Gallery, David McDonald, Mountain Artists Guild, Nancy Snow, Jean Lutz, Jordan Ford and John Finkey. Bidders will have a chance at large ceramic platters and bowls, sets of pottery mugs and plates, handled soup bowls, vases, hand-hammered copper items and glass dishes.
A new addition for this year will be a "green table" set aside for educational information about local farm and food programs, food products, the environment and recycling.
The 2008 Empty Bowls raised $14,000 to feed the hungry. This year's proceeds will benefit Prescott Community Cupboard, Chino Valley Food Bank, Prescott Valley Food Bank, Yavapai County Food Bank and the Salvation Army.
"We do this event at virtually no cost," said Eunice Ricklefs, who co-chairs Empty Bowls with Ethan Davis. "Every step of the way is provided by generous donations from community potters, wood turners, chefs and local stores."
Unitarian Universalist volunteers staff Empty Bowls, which Ricklefs calls "a truly community event." She said she didn't "really know of another community event that brings out so many enthusiastic people who are willing to stand in line for 30 minutes or more to select a handcrafted bowl." She added that nearly 1,000 people usually take part in Empty Bowls each year and finish off the soup and deplete the bowl supply.