Empty bowls — but not for long

Empty bowls no more: Participants in MANNA FoodBank’s Empty Bowls benefit get to take home a locally made bowl, donated by area ceramics artists. Photo courtesy of MANNA FoodBank

Empty Bowls was created in 1990 by two Michigan art teachers, Lisa Blackburn and John Hartom, to help raise awareness and funds to end hunger. More than $165,000 has been generated for hunger relief by local Empty Bowls events, organized by MANNA FoodBank. On Monday, Sept. 26, the organization holds its 10th such event at the DoubleTree Hotel Biltmore in Asheville (lunch) and the Hilton in Biltmore Park (dinner).

At the Empty Bowls fundraiser, guests receive a handmade bowl to hold a simple meal of soup supplemented by fresh-baked bread — they also get to take the bowl home as a reminder. Local ceramics artists donate the dish-ware, local chefs and restaurants donate soup, bread and dessert, and all proceeds go to help end food insecurity.

The event has featured only lunch in years past, but due to the increasing popularity, Empty Bowls will also host a dinner for the first time next week, thanks in part to the generosity of local restaurants.

"What's struck me in organizing this event is how often I've called a local restaurant and reached out to them and they have basically said yes before they even asked me what I needed,” Hixson says.

This year, lunch will be provided by the following local businesses: A-B Tech’s culinary department, DoubleTree Hotel Biltmore, Annie’s Bakery, Corner Kitchen, Cucina 24, Lexington Avenue Brewery, 12 Bones, Luella’s Bar-B-Que and Clingman Café. Lunch guests will be serenaded by the Mark Guest Trio. The Empty Bowls lunch will take place from 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel Biltmore in Asheville (115 Hendersonville Road). Tickets are $25.

The dinner event, which will take place from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m. at the Biltmore Hilton (43 Town Square Blvd.), will feature food from Roux, the Grove Park Inn (featuring the soup recipe that made it to the semi-finals in Michelle Obama's Let's Move Recipes for Healthy Kids contest), Travinia, Swallow Soup, Cold Stone Creamery and Mosaic Café. Admission is $30.

Desserts will be provided by the Biltmore Estate, French Broad Chocolate Lounge, Tiffany’s Bakery, True Confections, Province 620, Mosaic Café, Ya Ya Frozen Yogurt — and local apples harvested by by Hendersonville farmers.

"What I really love about Empty Bowls is that it's just this beautiful manifestation of the local arts community basically trying to help solve one of our biggest problems here, which is hunger and food insecurity," Hixson says. More than 7,000 hours of artists' time has been devoted to making the bowls for the event.

Tickets are on sale now and going fast — and it's important that tickets are purchased ahead of time, says Hixson. For more information, call MANNA FoodBank at 299-3663 or purchase tickets online at mannafoodbank.org.

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