Originally Published: September 8, 2012 9:29 p.m.
Empty Bowls, the annual event that serves gourmet soups on the courthouse plaza to raise money for area food banks, sets up for the 15th year Sunday, Sept. 16.
Soup's on from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and for $15 partakers first will be able to select a bowl from an array of nearly 1,000 created by local ceramists and wood turners and enjoy two helpings of specialty soups prepared by area restaurants and chefs.
Chef Todd Bulock has coordinated the day's soup kitchen on the plaza, which will include Albondigas de mi Familia from Peter Padilla, Black Canyon Grill; butternut squash from Brandon Duncanson, Stepping Stones; chicken cheddar chowder from Sam Hancock, Hassayampa Inn; Stracciatella from Roman Ristorante; farmer's vegetable from Carol Baran, Slow Food Prescott, Crossroads Café at Prescott College; tomato mushroom bisque from the Prescott Brewing Company; gazpacho from Judy May, Iron Springs Café; seafood bisque from Premier Catering and Events; tortilla chicken from Cowgirl in the Kitchen; curried red lentil from New Frontier Natural Marketplace; Italian vegetable fresco from Raven Café; chilled cucumber from Wren Myers/The Native Garden; green apple and pear soup from Gourmet, the Healthy Way; and a 12th-century Scottish recipe for cockaleekie, prepared by Bulock in honor of two past Empty Bowls chefs Frank McGuire and Jo Feiten.
The reason for Empty Bowls' success is "because of the cooperation and effort of everyone coming together willingly to give to others," Bulock said. "It takes time from each chef's schedule," he said, adding they all donate their soups' ingredients, as well as preparing it. "It's a win-win" fest, because money goes to the food banks, the chefs get exposure, and the guests get bowls for keepsakes, knowing they have contributed to a worthy cause, he said.
"Empty Bowls is truly a community event," co-chair Eunice Ricklefs said, beginning with the hundreds of bowls donated by local artisans. Guests will be able to choose bowls made by David McDonald, Fran Petersen, Glen Trotter, Jean Lutz, Nancy Koski and many more.
Marjon Ceramics of Phoenix and Laguna Clay donate much of the clay, Prescott Area Wood Turners donate 50 to 75 bowls, and Laura Bloomenstein, art director for Yavapai College's Ceramic and Art Department, opens the college's studio, where artisans who don't have their own studios to craft have made 250 bowls for Sunday's soup fest. This year, both Bradshaw Mountain and Chino Valley high school students have also made bowls to contribute.
Other contributions include rolls from the Wildflower Bread Company and Pangaea Bakery, bottled water from Credit Union West, tables on loan from Smoki Museum and manpower from Boy Scout Troop No. 10, which helps set up canopies, tables and chairs, and Girl Scout Troop No. 1565, which washes all the bowls before people get their soup. Granite Peak youths serve rolls and water, sell raffle tickets and escort any disabled people to the front of the line. Costco, Trader Joe's, Albertsons and both Walmart stores have also donated to Empty Bowls.
In addition to the traditional silent auction and raffle, this year's Empty Bowls will also have for sale T-shirts and cookbooks, which include soup recipes from past and current Empty Bowl chefs, as well as chefs' recipes for bread.
Empty Bowls is sponsored by Prescott Unitarian Universalist Fellowshop and Granite Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation. Last year's Empty Bowls raised $17,000 that went to Prescott Community Cupboard, Chino Valley Food Bank, Prescott Valley Food Bank, Yavapai Food Bank and Open Door.
"Each year we have been able to give more and more to food banks, and that has been the goal from the beginning," said co-chair Sally Richards.