Despite The Threat Of Rain, North Texas Food Bank’s Empty Bowls Had Guests And Restaurants Spooning Throughout The Meyerson

Paula Lambert, Simon Powell and Meaders Ozarow

As the herds headed out of town for early spring break on Friday, March 10, 1,300+ supped up at the annual Empty Bowls fundraiser for the North Texas Food Bank. It was the first Empty Bowls, since the death of full-of-life NTFB CEO Jan Pruitt. While her spirit championed on with restaurants setting up at the Meyerson. Her team including Interim President/CEO Simon Powell rallied the area restaurants and foodies resulting in the event coming off without a hitch.

Even as Mother Nature threatened to damped the outdoor activities, the experienced NTFB-ers simply took the precaution of pulling the VIP entrance and Bowl Tent and Checkout back to the lower level of the Meyerson.

The True Food Kitchen and Paradise Bakery and Cafe stations were moved to the Opus restaurant.

Joseph Alexander, Diana Ivette, Brandon Williams and Juan Prado

Empty Bowls’ bowls to take home

As one poor soul sought a parking space in the bowels of the underground parking, cutie pies like Joseph Alexander, Diana Ivette, Brandon Williams and Juan Prado welcomed guests and handed out blue bags and direction for guests. But the crowds didn’t mind the hassle of finding parking spots. They were there to pick out their bowls, bid on the ones in the silent auction and graze on two levels of the Meyerson.

Suzy Sotelo, Jolie Oree Bailey and Oscar Aponte

Low Country Quisine’s Jolie Oree Bailley was pleased that their participation last year evidently moved them from the upper level to the main lobby. Others didn’t care one iota. They were too busy doling out food.

The chaps at the Samsung Photo Booth encouraged guests to step inside the oversized capsule to sample the next stage of selfism that proved to be pretty awesome. Just past the booth was the KPMG VIP area with tables and wine.

Bailee Weeks, Salvatore Gisellu and Monica Leibowitz

Upstairs Hill and Knowlton’s Mark Edgar sampled Salvatore Gisellu‘s handmade beef meatball in a cup from Urban Crust.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then there are thousands over at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery of the restaurateurs who made it all possible.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery: 2017 Empty Bowls

While any kiddo worth her/his salt was packing for spring break on Friday, March 10, droves of parents lined up outside the Meyerson for the North Texas Food Bank’s Empty Bowls sup-athon. Thanks to adorable volunteers the wait was made so much easier.

Joseph Alexander, Diana Ivette, Brandon Williams and Juan Prado

And while it may have been missing longtime President/CEO Jan Pruitt, the restaurateurs, the artisans and more than a thousand guests rallied to provide funds for those within the North Texas community who literally hunger for their next meal.

Paula Lambert, Simon Powell and Meaders Ozarow

While the write-up is in its final stages, photos of the chefs and other sightings are available at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery for a lookie.

North Texas Food Bankers’ “Souper” Back-Up Plan Kept Empty Bowl Crowds Warm And Dry

The North Texas Food Bank team was prepared. After last year’s snow and ice, they had a back-up plan all warmed up for the Friday, March 11, fundraising “Empty Bowls” at the Meyerson. Okay, so the Highland Park and Richardson ISDs, Jesuit and Ursuline students were on spring break, but there were still a load of NTFB supporters and downtowners in need of soup as the temps dipped into the 60s with drips and drops from the clouds above.

Empty Bowls' bowls

Empty Bowls’ bowls

Just as the doors opened at 10:30 a.m. for the VIP types, the lineup was overflowing in the lower level with folks like photographer Lisa Stewart to check out the tables filled with hundreds of the handcrafted bowls for sale. The organizers were prepared for such a turnout and have chairs set up for double duty — to provide a path to the sell-athon and for sitting if the wait seemed a bit long. Even presenting sponsor Kroger’s Gary Huddleston had to check in!

Gary Huddleston

Gary Huddleston

Nico Sanchez

Nico Sanchez

Upstairs on the ground level the chefs like Tejano Brothers New Texas Cuisine’s Patrick Smith were serving all types of soups. Meso Maya‘s Nico Sanchez was double dutying. In addition to doling out Sopo de Pollo, he updated friends that the new location at Abrams and Mockingbird was scheduled to open late May. And, yes, it would have a patio for dining and sunning.

Across the way, a couple of cuties topped with crowns were helping Caitlyn Fantl sell NTFB T-shirts. Why the top gear? They were Miss Frisco Outstanding Teen Heather King and Miss Frisco Christina Clawson. When asked if they slept wearing their crowns, the response was laughter and the admission that it would be uncomfortable.

Griffin Schlitt and Liza Schlitt

Griffin Schlitt and Liza Schlitt

Taylor Ollivierre

Taylor Ollivierre

At the landing between the ground-level lobby and the upstairs balcony, mom Liza Schlitt and her three-year-old son Griffin Schlitt watched musicians like violinist Taylor Ollivierre provide the perfect background music for supping.

In the back of the lobby within the roped-off, super-duper VIP area, a table waited for NTFB’s Jan Pruitt’s arrival complete with a reserve sign and a glorious centerpiece.

Paula Lambert and Marisa Partin

Paula Lambert and Marisa Partin

On the other side of the Meyerson lobby that was jammed with designer soup bowls on display for the silent auction was a traditional favorite — Paula Lambert’s Mozzarella Company complete with Paula and Marisa Partin.

Evidently the word started making the rounds that smarty pants peeps were heading up the stairs, where Mi Cocina-ers were handing out gift bags and there were tables for sitting and supping. For those with a need for a sweet chaser, Panera had loads of cookies ripe for the taking.

Daniel Villatoro, Jolie Oree-Bailey and Stacey Setzer

Daniel Villatoro, Jolie Oree-Bailey and Stacey Setzer

Across the way was the dark horse soup of the day. Low Country Quisine ‘s Chef Jolié Oree-Bailey and her team (Daniel Villatoro and Stacey Setzer) were serving up shrimp-and-grits soup. It was impressing folks to a point that its vote jar of dollar votes had folks returning to add more greenbacks.

For more photos, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: Empty Bowls

Taylor Ollivierre

Taylor Ollivierre

With the temperatures flirting with the 80s, it might take a wee bit of doing to recall Friday, March 11, when there was a chilly, wet feeling in the area. As it perfectly timed, the North Texas Food Bank held its annual Empty Bowls at the Meyerson.

Sure, there were some folks, who were out of town for spring break, but there were hundreds sampling the goodies like shrimp and grits, listening to music and buying up the soup bowls to help feed those in need of help.

While the post is being finished up, check out the MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

JUST IN: Rainy Day Backup Plans Announced For Friday’s North Texas Food Bank’s 17th Annual Empty Bowls

Weary of the rain? Well, it’s probably hanging around a bit longer, so don’t retire those raincoats quite yet. In fact, the drippy stuff is supposed to stay until sometime Saturday.

Mother Nature's tears

Mother Nature’s tears

Oops! Didn’t anybody tell Mother Nature that the North Texas Food Bank’s 17th Annual Empty Bowls is taking place Friday at the Meyerson? Wouldn’t have done any good. She still was gonna rain on the foodie parade.

Ah, but those wonderful NTFB folks were prepared for such a situation and had a back-up plans in place.

According to NTFB’s Anna Kurian, “If it rains, our plan is to move the VIP entry inside. VIPs will be able to enter starting at 10:30 a.m. at the main entrance on Flora Street and at the Lower Level — Basement Area entry — where we will also move the handcrafted bowls.

Empty Bowls (File photo)

Empty Bowls (File photo)

“We do hope that Mother Nature cooperates, but if it does rain, we know that our guests will undoubtedly appreciate a nice cup of soup even more!”

And that soup will be provided by Blue Mesa Grill, Celebration Market and Restaurant, Empire Baking Co. & Mozzarella Company, Green Door Public House, Kroger, Low Country Quisine, McAlister’s Deli, Meso Maya, Mi Cocina, NTFB Community Kitchen, Panera Bread, Royal Cup Coffee, Snappy Salads, SPIN! Neapolitan Pizza, Tejano Brothers, True Food Kitchen, Urban Crust and Wolfgang Puck Catering plus cheese from Paula Lambert’s Mozzarella Co.

Tickets are still available.

North Texas Food Bank To Feed More Than 486,000 As A Result Of Empty Bowls

There was something in the sky. It looked so familiar but it hadn’t been seen in ages. Well, goodness gracious. It was the sun. Despite the frigid temps and ice covered streets, Old Man Sol decided to present himself for the North Texas Food Bank’s Empty Bowls on Friday, March 6.

Empty Bowls guests filling the Meyerson

Empty Bowls guests filling the Meyerson

Evidently 1,781 heard the call queuing up outside the Meyerson . The final count surprised even the organizers, who had thought the day before’s weather might have worked against them.

Gary Huddleston and Jan Pruitt

Gary Huddleston and Jan Pruitt

As the media types pulled the like of NTFB Jan Pruitt and Kroger’s Gary Huddleston for interviews, the chefs provided yummies with smiles.

“Oh, those lucky VIP’s,” thoughts ran through the heads of the general admission folks as they watched the VIP’s casual checked out and sample the goodies of such restaurants as Meso Maya, Snappy Salads, True Food Kitchen, Tejano Brothers, Urban Crust, Green Door Public House, Zoёs Kitchen, Blue Mesa Grill, Panera Bread, Kroger, Celebration Restaurant, Ten50 BBQ, Wolfgang Puck Catering in Dallas and Empire Baking Company.

With the soups filling the bowls, gallons of the delicious stuff was being ladled out. Mesa Maya alone served up “25 gallons of Chicken Pozole Verde.”

Abigail Martinez and Nico Sanchez

Abigail Martinez and Nico Sanchez

Laurie Whitley, Alex Dooley and Stacey Setzer

Laurie Whitley, Alex Dooley and Stacey Setzer

At one point, a guest spilled a cup of the Zoe’s tomato bisque soup on the Meyerson’s marble floor. Without missing a beat, Jan was on the spot having it cleaned up.

North Texas Fob Bank Community Kitchen’s Chef James Williams was offering corn bread, Navy Bean Soup and assorted tarts.

Corn bread

Corn bread

True Food Kitchen's Tuscan Kale Salad

True Food Kitchen’s Tuscan Kale Salad

And, no, not all was hot liquidy soups. One of the surprise hits was True Food Kitchen’s Tuscan Kale Salad. It was a turning point for many in their appreciation of kale.

Meaders Moore Ozarow and Paula Lambert

Meaders Moore Ozarow and Paula Lambert

Over at the Empire Baking Company/Mozzarella Company station, Mozzarella Mama Paula Lambert handed out about “35 pounds of the artisan cheese” with Empire’s Empress Meaders Moore Ozarow.

To help wash down the soups and assorted items, “more than 100 gallons of McAllister’s iced tea” and water provided by Grant Thornton was served up.

Veletta Lill

Veletta Lill

The chefs were bouncing with personality and product. After all, they were all vying for Top Soup du Jour.

Folks like Veletta Lill were checking out the designer bowls up for bid at the silent auction tables inside the Meyerson,  while outside in a tent VIP and General Admission guests were perusing the legions of bowls to take home.

Complimentary bowls being selected

Complimentary bowls being selected

After the last guests headed back to work and the NTFB team cleaned up, they calculated that “more than 486,00 meals for hungry North Texans would be provided by the day’s “empty bowls.”

 

UPDATE: Empty Bowls Is On

North Texas Food Bank*

North Texas Food Bank*

North Texas Food Bank‘s Brett Gray just reported about the status of this morning’s Empty Bowl‘s soup-athon — “All systems go!”

So, bundle up and head to the Meyerson for some warmth, both inside and out.

Yum!

* Graphic provided 
by North Texas 
Food Bank

STATUS REPORT: North Texas Food Bank’s Friday Empty Bowls

Sick and tired of this cold stuff? Please! It’s okay to head to Aspen and Lake Louise for snow cozying or tanning in Cabo, but that’s so ho-hum. Thank heaven, the North Texas Food Bank is holding its 16th Annual Empty Bowls at the Meyerson Friday.

It supposedly, “all-systems-Go!”

Hmm, did NTFB goddess Jan Pruitt cut some kind of deal with Mother Nature? Giggle. Jan ain’t fessing up and we ain’t gonna press her because she’s too busy cooking up loads of soup for the Empty Bowls fundraiser.

In the meantime, Jan’s had her Go-To-Talk-Fella Brett Gray report,

  • “The soup is on tomorrow! Everything is the same with one exception: because it will be chilly (mid- to high-30s according to the weather forecast),  we are moving all restaurant stations indoors.  (We originally had planned several stations outdoors at Betty Marcus Park, as we did in 2014.)
  • “Bowls will be under a big tent outdoors – for guests to take a bowl as they depart.
  • “We are really looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow – and tickets also will be available at the door.  Here is the link:  https://web.ntfb.org/emptybowls

Love the positive attitude, but let’s see what Mom Nature dumps on us overnight. Let’s hope she doesn’t do a repeat performance of today’s cold shoulder.

Thank heaven for folks like morning-TV types like Ron Corning, who must have set new records for today’s frosty coverage and helping area non-profits struggling through the snowy headaches of the day.

The really great news is that spring break is next week and everyone is headed to ski the Rocky Mountains or to tan on the beaches of St. Bart’s.

Not to worry. The MSC staff will keep you posted on the good, the bad and the OMG of the days to come.

Tackle The Chill With Soups Galore At 16th Annual North Texas Food Bank’s Empty Bowls

Have you put that adorably cute nose of yours outside today? If you have, you didn’t for long. Once again, the February Freezer is still in place. It looks like the chill is gonna stay in place for a while.

Jan Pruitt (File photo)

Jan Pruitt (File photo)

How simply perfect! Why? Because a bowl of soup would be better than a pain-free wax peel. And those food-loving folks at the North Texas Food Bank are gonna make you very happy. No, NTFB CEO Jan Pruitt is not going to be in charge of the peels. But she and her team are going to be at the Meyerson next Friday (March 6) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the 16th Annual Empty Bowls. Soups from 19 restaurants will be ladled out including handmade local cheeses from Paula Lambert’s Mozzarella Co. and artisan breads from Empire Baking Co.

Bowls (File photo)

Bowls (File photo)

Of course, you want to know what restaurants to make sure they’re up to your tastebuds. Here they are including the six newbies:

  • Blue Mesa Grill — Painted Desert Soup
  • Celebration Market and Restaurant — Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry Curls
  • Dining at the Meyerson — Traditional Pork Posole
  • Empire Baking Co. & Mozzarella Co. — Artisan Local Bread and Handmade Local Cheese
  • Kroger — Chili and Broccoli Cheddar Soup
  • McAlister’s Deli — Chicken and dumpling soup, sweet and un-sweet tea
  • Meso Maya — Chicken Pozole Verde*
  • NTFB Community Kitchen — Navy Bean and Ham Soup, Cornbread, Assorted Tarts
  • Panera Bread — Miniature Cookies
  • Place at Perry’s — Tomato Artichoke Bisque
  • Royal Cup Coffee — 100% Arabica Coffee
  • Snappy Salads — Farm Fresh Salads*
  • Ten 50 BBQ (a new restaurant concept from Larry Levine, founder of Chili’s) — Crunchy Cole Slaw *
  • Tejano Brothers — Martini Mashed Potato Bar
  • The Green Door — Chicken Tortilla Soup*
  • True Food Kitchen — Tuscan Kale Salad
  • Urban Crust — Polenta and Meatballs*
  • Wolfgang Puck Catering — Cruciferous Garden Chowder with Watercress
  • Zoe’s Kitchen — Tomato Bisque, Basil Pesto Hummus, Red Pepper Hummus, Pita Bread and Cucumbers*
Soup line (File photo)

Soup line (File photo)

General admission is $35 and gets you food, beverages and a handcrafted artist bowl. Ah, but the $100 VIP tickets gets everything the general admission folks get plus early entry at 10:30 a.m. through a VIP entrance. This event is definitely one where the early bird gets to miss the crowd that is all-too-probable just like last year.

But if you’re really, truly strapped for ca-ching, then you can do the $25 special (food and beverage but no bowl).

And while on the subject of last year, remember the traffic jam around the Meyerson that took place? The NTFB crew not only remembered it, they’ve put together a plan to ease the problems. Here’s the official POA:

Empty Bowls Parking*

Empty Bowls Parking**

  • UBER- New users who enter promo code ‘EmptyBowls’ will receive $20 off their first ride
  • Meyerson Symphony Center garage via Munger Ave off Pearl
    • Self-parking is $10
    • Valet parking is $25
    • Handicap valet parking is $25 with valid permit via Munger Avenue off of Pearl St
  • Hall Arts Center garage off Ross Ave
    • Self-parking is $10
    • Handicapped self-parking is available next to the elevators on levels G4 and lower
  • AT&T Performing Arts Red Lexus garage (Winspear Opera House) self-parking is $5
  • Platinum Parking self-parking:
    • Lot at Ross and Harwood is $10 (not on map)
    • Lot on San Jacinto between Leonard and Hawkins is $5
  • Additional parking is available on street level

They’re encourage “guests to carpool and take public transportation.”

* First-time restaurant 
** Graphic provided by North Texas Food Bank

JUST IN: Some Empty Bowls Guests Were Waylaid By Dante’s Inferno

The North Texas Food Bank’s Empty Bowls has grown over the years. In fact, last year there was some speculation that it might have outgrown the Meyerson. But the downtown location was just too perfect for generous restaurants to ladle out soup to the masses and the local artists to display and provide their artistic bowls for the NTFB.

Today just getting to the event caused some to think a move wouldn’t have been such a bad idea.

With a nip in the air, the thought of souping today at the 15th Annual Empty Bowls was tantalizing. Above ground everything was going just peachy. Downtown office workers and residents strolled to the Meyerson and checked in at the Betty Marcus Park.

Alas, underground it wasn’t such a pretty scene. Like sinners suffering through the nine circles of Dante’s Inferno, countless guests were welcomed at the Cathedral entrance by a cheery Charon, who gladly accepted the cash in exchange for a parking ticket. “You’re going to be busy,” one soul said. The attendant smiled and nodded looking at the lineup of vehicles waiting for passage into the vehicular dungeon. Instead of crossing the river Styx, the drivers navigated the maze leading farther and farther down into the narrow guts of the Cathedral and Symphony parking garages.

All they discovered were either empty spots marked “Reserved” or no open spaces. Pity those who made it all the way to the dead end in the garage’s lowest bowels. They ended up testing their ability to turn vehicles 180 degrees between parked cars. As these veterans started their journey back upward, they waved their hands and shook their heads trying to warn new arrivals of what lay before them. Still the innocents continued the trek downward. But what were the newbies’ choices? There was no way to turn around until the very end and they couldn’t back up because cars kept coming and coming.

Over in the symphony area of the parking garage, it was no surprise to see confused and frustrated drivers desperately heading their cars the wrong way. Open spaces, where construction was taking place, looked so tempting, but yellow tape, equipment and hunky workers discouraged even the most desperate driver.

Still, cars kept being admitted.

Finally, one driver after searching for 25 minutes headed to the exit. After being advised that the place was overloaded and they should stop admitting people, the unimpressed garage attendant chomped her gum and said, “Yeah. You should try again.”

While some eventually left the catacombs for more available parking lots, others just called it a day. Were they disappointed? Sure. But even they had to admit that their parking irritation was nothing compared to someone, who is going hungry.

North Texas Food Bank’s Empty Bowls Filled For More Than 1,700 Thanks To Area Potters, Wood Turners, Restaurants And Kroger

On Friday, March 1, the sun was shining. There was just enough chill in the air to make a hot soup win over an iceberg salad. The perfect day for the North Texas Food Bank‘s Empty Bowls program.

Bowls for bids

Bowls for bids

At the Meyerson, the marble floors and the limestone walls were like a gift box brimming with all types of activity and aromas. Inside the concert hall a recording session was underway. But the lobby was filling with the scent of delicious blendings of soups. Set up on both the levels there were bowls up for bidding and loads of stations including Aw Shucks, Blue Mesa Grill, Bread Winners Café and Bakery, Café Brazil, Celebration Market and Restaurant, The Common Table, Cook Hall, Dining at the Meyerson, Empire Baking Company, Kroger, la Madeleine, McAlister’s Deli, My Fit Foods, North Texas Food Bank Community Kitchen, Panera, ReMARKable Affairs Catering, Royal Cup Coffee, Truluck’s Seafood, Steak and Crab House, West End Pub and Wolfgang Puck Catering.

In the underground lobby were volunteers like Cindy Kelley, Ginny Marsh, Linda Gossett and Angela Gallia unpacking bowls that would be given to each patron.

Last year they ran out of bowls. This year organizers were determined that all would leave with a bowl.

Gary Huddleston and Jan Pruitt

Gary Huddleston and Jan Pruitt

In the lobby the lineup of silent auction bowls was being given a final once-over. North Texas Food Bank President/CEO Jan Pruitt was meeting with Kroger’s Gary Huddleston. Dallas pottery godfather John Williams with his gray ponytail was proud of what has been accomplished since the first Empty Bowls benefiting the North Texas Food Bank 14 years ago.

Ginny Marsh, Linda Gossett, Angela Gallia and John  Williams

Ginny Marsh, Linda Gossett, Angela Gallia and John Williams

John didn’t start out to help kick-start the program. No, as a matter of fact he want to SMU and earned a business marketing degree. Upon graduation he told his dad that he wanted to be a potter. His dad told him to charge ahead.

Empty Bowls didn’t start in Dallas, but when John learned about the program, he knew Dallas was ripe for it. The area potters plus wood turners and artisans started turning out bowls and area restaurants  and Kroger pitched in. And even though John and his wife, Darlene, sold their Trinity Ceramics, they are just active as ever including daughter Angela Gallia.

Waiting outside

Waiting outside

As some folks waited outside for the doors to officially open at 11, those who paid $100 got an early entry to check out the bowls. Unfortunately, the trusty Meyerson staffers were a little too vigilant in separating the chaff from the grain, as volunteers had to prove that they were allowed to enter certain areas. Others were bounced from one security group to another trying to cross the velvet ropes.

Early arrivals checking out the bowls

Early arrivals checking out the bowls

This year organizers expected 1,600 to attend with a goal of $150,000. Instead 1,700 souped and they raised $156,396. That means NTFB will be able to provide 469,188 meals to the North Texas community.

BTW, this year a new opportunity was offered for guests — Empty Bowls People’s Choice Award. Guests could vote on their favorite soup, bread or dessert. Smart thinking! Why? Because each vote cost a buck with a five-vote minimum. And the winner was? You’ll have to follow the jump to find out! [Read more…]

14th Annual Empty Bowls Will Fill The Meyerson For North Texas Food Bank

Sure, the winter so far has been relatively warm compared to years past. The folks in the northeast have taken the brunt of the cold weather. Still, it’s not a done deal until the end of March and even then who knows.

But as any kid who has tried to spell a word with alphabet soup knows, soup is good anytime. But on Friday, March 1, it is going to be hmm, hmm good at the 14th Annual Empty Bowls. This annual fav has everyone from unknown to too-well-known scurrying around the upper and lower lobbies of the Meyerson looking like Oliver. And they’re not disappointed thanks to soups, breads and desserts provided by Kroger and several local restaurants.

Empty Bowls guests lining up for soup (File photo)

Empty Bowls guests lining up for soup (File photo)

In addition to the stellar people-watching, the Young Strings of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra will be performing in the atrium.

And you won’t be leaving empty-handed. No, siree. Area artisans have created handcrafted bowls for guests to take home to soup in the future.

Since all proceeds from the soup-a-thon benefit the North Texas Food Bank, why not put a table together and entourage to lunch? Or, better yet, why not splurge and buy a table yourself and invite your favs to soup it up with you? Tickets are going for

  • $25 (lunch but no take-home bowl),
  • $35 in advance (lunch plus bowl),
  • $45 at the door (lunch plus bowl) and
  • VIP $100 (you get in a half hour before everyone else and feel very special)

Tables All Set For Friday Lunches

You have absolutely no excuse to be eating at your desk. If you’re downtown, head over to the Meyerson for Empty Bowls benefiting the North Texas Food Bank.

If you’re further north on Stemmons, drop in at the Trade Mart where Attitudes and Attires is having its lunch that was postponed from February 2nd because of the storm of the century.