Empty Bowls 2016

Every year this event gets bigger and better and this year's Empty Bowls was no exception.  The event committee expanded the footprint to utilize the green space surrounding the McKinney Performing Arts Center, MPAC, to house the souvenir bowls, along with a Community Lifeline Center booth, and...

A select few artisan-made bowls which were at a lower price point than many of the auction items.  If you were interested in more than one of the souvenir bowls to take home as a regular reminder of the empty bowls and bellies of the hungry in our community there was also an option to purchase those.  The expanded selection of items up for sale created more opportunities for people, such as myself, who cannot necessarily spend several hundred dollars on the stunning auction bowls, but are interested in purchasing a beautiful piece of craftsmanship.
And on to the food: First up there was Taco Soup from Snug on the Square.  Many of the restaurants have begun creating fun tablescapes.  Snug's mascot is the owl and there are owls all over their restaurant and their table at Empty Bowls, but I completely missed it because I was so focused on getting a quick photograph of the delicious soup bowls which I stole from my parents before they could mess them up by, you know, eating the soup.
The Pantry brought Chicken and Dumplings and they were cleaned out before I left the event.  The Pantry has been a staple on the square since 1982 and was even featured on the Food Network's "Outrageous Foods."
The Turnip Soup provided by Patina Green utilized all of the parts of the turnip, from the soup base to the garnish.  My mother, who is not fond of turnips, thought this soup was delicious!
Patina Green is a modern take on the general store.  They stock food items from local sources, home accessories of the vintage variety, plus freshly made lunch and dinner items.
This year's presenting sponsor, Whole Foods, tempted guests with their Brisket Chili.  As a bonus there was fresh made cornbread and this stunning tablescape.  They also provided reusable shopping bags made from recycled water bottles.
Square Burger brought Sweet Summer Corn Soup.  The caramelized onions topping this soup added some nice texture and flavor dimension.  As the name indicates, Square Burger is a restaurant on the square that specializes in burgers, but their menu also features a variety of other tasty food options from salads to appetizers and special kids' meals.
There was a second variety of corn soup, Chipotle Corn Soup, from Bernard's Game Day Foods.  The flavor profile was a completely different, but equally delicious. David Bernard is the chef behind Game Day Foods and his wife is the author behind McKinney Foodie.  Bernard's Game Day Foods is available for catering and their fresh-made salsa can be purchased at the McKinney Farmers' Market.
Rye, one of the newest restaurants in McKinney's square, delivered a beautiful Cream of Asparagus Soup.  Rye's menu includes fun takes on classics (like their amazing BLT, add a fried egg and it gets even better), utilizing local ingredients and complimented by their modern take on vintage cocktails.
Bien Salsa's table decorations included a colorful selection of the produce used in their soup, as well as a stunning rose carved into a watermelon.
The line was worth the wait for Bien Salsa's Tortilla Soup.  Not only was their table pretty, but so was their soup.  The restaurant's menu features a selection of dishes from various regions throughout Mexico.  This is not your typical TexMex.
Beef and Guinness, what is not to like about that combination?  The Pub's Beef and Guinness Stew proved that there was nothing not to like about this classic combo.  The Pub is downtown McKinney's upscale take on the traditional pub featuring a menu with tasty twists on classic dishes and a selection of bar hall games, not to mention the drinks.
Local Yocal is a butcher shop and market in downtown McKinney that is owned and operated by local ranchers.  They provide fresh cuts of meat that are hormone, steroid, and antibiotic free, a range of other fresh food staples, and they cater.  For Empty Bowls they created a Gazpacho topped with Brisket.
If you haven't noticed a trend up to this point then Harvest should cinch it for you.  Yep, you guessed it, here in McKinney we like our food tasty and local.  And Harvest is a farm to table restaurant on the square in McKinney doing just that.
The menu at Harvest changes seasonally to ensure that dishes highlight the best produce and meats available for that time of year.  Last Thursday their soup was a Butternut Squash Soup with Duck Confit & Chervil.
Formerly The Londoner, The Celt is McKinney's very own Irish pub.  Many of The Londoner's customer favorites were kept alongside new Irish delicacies.  The Celt brought their Cream of Roasted Red Pepper Soup again this year, much to the delight of myself and several other guests at Empty Bowls.
To finish off the evening McKinney's Sweet Spot had Gooey Butter Brownie Bites that were going fast.  The Gooey Butter Brownie Bites are just a drop in the dessert bucket offered at McKinney's Sweet Spot.  This bakery and sweet shops sells cakes, candies, ice cream, and more.
And last, but certainly not least, are the variety of cookies from Hugs Cafe.
I previously told you about Hugs Cafe and it's wonderful mission of providing adults with special needs a meaningful place of employment.  Here these enthusiastic individuals can not only earn some money and a sense of accomplishment from a job well done, but they are also learning valuable life skills in the kitchen.  And, as these perfectly baked cookies showed, something is going very right over at Hugs Cafe.
While some things have changed from year to year, the one thing that hasn't is the incredible selection of bowls from local artists, schools, service organizations, and more.
Many of these bowls are made months in advance.  The bowl above is the bowl that I chose to bring home this year and it was created last summer during a summer camp program at one of the local art studios.
And I had to share photographs of the auction items.  There was a range of styles available in the auction.  From the traditional ceramic to wood and glass, there was a bowl to satisfy most every taste out there.
In addition to the new features mentioned above, there were also some new patron opportunities and perks.  A maximum of 50 people could purchase Collectors' Club tickets which entitled you to enter Empty Bowls 30 minutes before everyone else.  You received the plate, which I think bears more than a passing resemblance to a paint pallet and I hope was intentional, below, first selection of the souvenir bowls, a raffle ticket for a special Collectors' Club bowl, and...
The gorgeous polymer clay pin below that was created by a new friend, Colourful Blossom's Nuby.  I thought that the Collectors' Club tickets were well worth the cost.
I am eagerly looking forward to next year's event, though I'm sure the Empty Bowls committee is looking forward to a little well deserved time off.

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