Get your fill at Empty Bowls event: Prescott tradition draws hundreds of donors, volunteers
A 14-year Prescott tradition - Empty Bowls, a grassroots movement to help feed the hungry - will spread across the Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza on Sunday, Sept. 11.
For $15, soup lovers will get a ceramic or wood bowl crafted by local artists and, before they take it home, they will be able to fill it twice with gourmet soups prepared by local chefs, and also partake of rolls and bottled water that have been donated to Empty Bowls by local merchants.
The event, which runs from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., will also feature a silent auction and a raffle for specialty items. Proceeds help support local food banks in the quad-city area. Sponsors of the community outreach event are the Prescott Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and the Granite Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation.
Chefs are busy this week stirring up 14 gourmet soups, under the coordination of Chef Todd Bullock. The array of choices and chefs who will be serving are: tomato mushroom bisque from Prescott Brewing Company; farmer's vegetable from Prescott College's Crossroads Café; gazpacho from Iron Springs Café; tortilla chicken from Cowgirl in the Kitchen; potato cream cheese from Wildflower Bread Co.; chicken pasole from New Frontiers Natural Marketplace; roasted corn and poblano from the Raven Café; chicken gumbo from the Black Canyon Grill at Wyndham Gardens Hotel; pasta fagioll from Knu Deli; tomato bleu cheese from Monk's; New England clam chowder from the Hassayampa Inn; pasole from El Gato Azul; autumn harvest from the Prescott Farmers Market crew; and a 12th-century Scottish recipe for cockaleekie prepared by Chef Bullock in honor of Empty Bowls' past chefs, Frank McGuire and Jo Feiten.
"This event is organized at virtually no cost," co-chair Eunice Ricklefs said. "Every step of the way is provided by generous donations from the community - potters, wood turners, restaurants and local stores" that pitch in along with the many Unitarian Universalist volunteers.
"Last year, we distributed $14,000 to Prescott Community Cupboard, Chino Valley Food Bank, Prescott Valley Food Bank, Yavapai Food Bank and Open Door," she said.
Ricklefs and co-chair Sally Richards said they expect the donation of 700 bowls from local artisans, including Deanne Brewster, Karen Van Price of Van Price Gallery, Art Escape, Heath and Cathy Krieger, David McDonald, Fran Petersen, Glenn Trotter, Jean Lutz, Nancy Koski and many others. Also deserving much of the credit for helping out, Ricklefs said, are Marjon Ceramics and Laguna Clay, which donate much of the clay for the bowls, as well as Prescott Area Wood Turners Fred Martenis, Jim Winge, Jim Muehleisen and Don Jordan for the 50 to 75 wood bowls. The Yavapai College Ceramic and Art Department gives more than 250 bowls to Empty Bowls, and Laura Bloomenstein, department director, opens the doors of the college's facility to local potters who don't have their own studios.
Ricklefs and Richards said many artisans, including Steve Appel's Bolt People, Newman Gallery, David McDonald, Mountain Artists Guild, Nancy Snow, Jean Lutz, Jordan Ford and Susan Dumont, have contributed 40 specialty pieces for the silent auction. Large ceramic platters and bowls, sets of pottery mugs and plates, handled soup bowls, vases, hand-hammered copper items, jewelry, large wooden bowls and spoons are among the items on the auction block.
In addition to these donations, Ricklefs said Credit Union West is providing 60 cases of bottled water, and Costco, Safeway stores, Walmart stores, Sam's Club, Albertsons, Pangaea Bakery and Wild Flower Bread Company have donated 1,200 rolls to accompany the soups.
"Empty Bowls is truly a community event," she said, noting that Boy Scout Troop 10 helps set up tables and chairs provided by the Prescott Parks and Recreation Department, Girl Scout Troop 475 washes all the bowls before they are given to attendees, and the Granite Peak Youth group hands out rolls and water, sells raffle tickets and escorts disabled people to the front of the soup line.
"I don't really don't know of any 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 and eat soup," Ricklefs said. "We usually have a 1,000 people stop by during the two to three hours. Many have supported us from the beginning and say they love meeting and chatting with people in line and wouldn't miss the opportunity to buy another bowl."
As the Empty Bowls committee began planning this year's Empty Bowls, they were concerned that the event was taking place on Sept. 11, Ricklefs said.
"However, after hearing that the day had been designated as a 'National Day of Service and Remembrance,' we have a positive feeling that the community will come out and support this very worthwhile project to feed the hungry and those less fortunate."