Be a vessel to end hunger at MANNA benefit

Help MANNA FoodBank fight hunger with bowls and spoons. On Monday, Sept. 24, the nonprofit will host its annual Empty Bowls event. Local artists, chefs and bakers will collaborate to produce a simple meal served in handmade bowls. When the meal is over, diners take their bowl home with them to serve as a symbol of the empty bowls and bellies in Western North Carolina and around the world.

“I think people love the idea of taking home a reminder with them,” says Alisa Hixson, director of communications and marketing at MANNA. “The bowls are so beautiful and there's such an incredible selection.”

This year, the event will include a lunch and a dinner. MANNA plans to host about 1,000 guests throughout the day: 650 at lunch and around 350 at dinner. Artists all over WNC have worked for weeks to make sure every diner will have a memento. This year, contributing potters include Tisha Cook, Barbara Gerber, Denise Baker, Paul Frehe and Gabriel Kline.

The meal will be simple — all-you-can-eat soup, bread and dessert — but local chefs are donating their time to ensure that it will be well-made. Lunch fare will include soups by Carmel’s, Chestnut, Doubletree Catering, GO Kitchen-Ready, Harrah’s, Lexington Avenue Brewery and 12 Bones Smokehouse. Dinner will come from Carmel’s, Corner Kitchen, Cucina 24, Luella’s BBQ and Roux. For both meals, Annie's Bakery and Brixx will provide bread, and French Broad Chocolate Lounge, Mosaic Café and the Biltmore Estate will prepare the desserts.

“The chefs make certain that they come to serve the soup,” Hixson says. “Guests actually are free to move about the room and try as many different soups as they like. So there's a real mingling of people up and down, trying soups, talking.”

This year will mark MANNA's 11th Empty Bowls, an international program that began in Detroit in 1990. MANNA FoodBank networks with the local food industry, organizations and individuals to distribute food in Western North Carolina. In 2009, they provided 8.2. million pounds in food assistance to the area.

MANNA Empty Bowls takes place on Monday, Sept. 24. Lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Doubletree in Biltmore Park at 115 Hendersonville Road. Tickets cost $25, and the Mark Guest Trio and Mary Pearson will provide music. Dinner will be served from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Biltmore Park Hilton, 43 Town Square Blvd. Tickets cost $30. For more information or to purchase a ticket, visit mannafoodbank.org/empty-bowls-2012/.

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