Empty Bowls, Full Bellies


By: Jess Dilday

This year’s Empty Bowls event, a fundraiser for Urban Ministries of Durham, was bigger than ever. This annual event, which involves tasting 13 soups made by Durham’s top chefs, drew in a crowd of over 1,000. In all, they were able to raise over $103k in donations, surpassing their largest goal ever of $100k.

The evening was hosted by Jatovi McDuffie and judges were Bull City Rising‘s Lisa Sorg, local bluesman and “Papa Mojo” Mel Melton, artist and CEO of Helius, Geraud Staton, Anthony Wilson of ABC 11, and myself. We all came hungry, and left ready to be pushed out in a wheelbarrow. The soups were all delicious, but we had some clear favorites. The mushroom espresso bisque, created by The Forest at Duke, was served up via french press, and there appeared to be a ton of work put into its creation. It had just the right amount of garlic, and the presentation was gorgeous. Durham Convention Center presented a mean collard green, chicken, and shrimp gumbo with a pleasant kick and a meaty, almost smoky, taste. At some point, we all began ooing and ahhing over a delicious curry butternut squash made by Saladelia Cafe. Finally, Brock Premier Culinary Services created a sweet corn & roasted poblano pepper chowder with Carolina trout that we all really liked. They even added an extra little touch by serving it in different bowls, with different spoons. Ultimately, they won first prize, after the “people’s choice” votes were in. Second place went to Durham Convention Center, and third place went to Mad Hatter, who had served a white bean escarole & local sausage.

After dessert (!!) was served, everyone went home happy, full, and having helped feed others in the process. Personally, that was some of the best soup I’ve tasted in my life.

For more information about Urban Ministries Durham, you can visit their website, or call (919) 682-0538. 


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