Fundraiser fills bowls, hearts with soup

Annual event raises money for Bay Area Rescue Mission

By Gabriel Quiroz, Staff Writer

Contra Costa College is known for its work within its surrounding community.
Whether it is students or teachers working off campus in the community, or members of the community coming to the college to help — there has always been a strong bond.
The Empty Bowls event, held Friday on campus, was another such collaboration between the college and community, with all profits going to help the Bay Area Rescue Mission in Richmond.
The event allowed attendees to choose and keep their own bowl, created by students in the ceramic classes of the fine and media arts department.
They also got to fill it with soup made by culinary arts department students.
CCC alumna Holly Potenziani, who attended the event, said, “We visit the Aqua Terra Grill to give back to the community and have an affordable lunch. I used to go to school here too. The last thing we had here was beef tongue. It was so good.”
The event cost $5 for students for the first bowl and $10 for the general public. Both prices allowed for unlimited refills, so customers could try as many soups as they wanted.
There was also mixed berry and ginger carrot juice drinks included in the ticket price.
There were a variety of soups available with origins in Thailand, Mexico, India, France and other countries around the globe.
The unique tastes and smells from all around the world made the event feel like a trip through a kitchen door that led to a different country.
The event allowed patrons to go into the kitchen of the culinary arts department and get a glimpse of what it’s like in a high-intensity cooking atmosphere.
The kitchen experience offered a new perspective to customers and allowed students to tell them about their dishes in great detail — directly to the patrons. Culinary arts students told guests exactly what ingredients went into the dishes, as well as showing them the thought they put into their design.
Culinary arts major Maggie Alinsod said, “We wanted to make something appealing for our display, so we used fried garlic on top of our dish to make it more appealing since it is a light dish. It’s something you might eat for breakfast.”
Alinsod’s group made a Filipino soup, Arroz Caldo con Pollo.
There were many people in the culinary arts department who volunteered for the event, but as it was not part of any specific class assignment. It was designed to be a way for students to interact with the community, department Chairperson Nader Sharkes said.
Culinary major Debbie Fisher said, “I really enjoy the experience and I’ve been here for two years. Our group made a French onion soup with toast and melted cheese on top.”
Students selected their soups through different means. For some, it was something they wanted to create that they had never done before.
“We wanted to appeal to vegetarians with our soup,” culinary major Chelsea Emslander said. “It was a collaborative choice. We used veggie stock, kidney beans, corn and roasted garlic.” Her group chose to make a vegetarian chili soup with cornbread and butter.
The students chose their own soups to create for the event, which had to meet Sharkes’ approval.
Empty Bowls helped to foster an even greater bond with the community and the college.
“We have people who work at the rescue mission full time who go to CCC. After they graduate, they can continue to work as an intern at the mission,” Men’s Services at the Bay Area Rescue Mission Manager Darrell Olson said.
CCC has been hosting an Empty Bowls event for seven years now, Sharkes said.
“Students and staff of the culinary arts department volunteered their time to work at this event and help the Bay Area Rescue Mission,” he said.