Photo Gallery | Bowls being made for 'Empty Bowl'


WILLIAMSTOWN -- Everybody's bowl is always full -- not.

That's the sentiment behind the Empty Bowl Dinner, a biennial fundraising dinner for the Berkshire Food Project, according to Executive Director Valerie Schwarz. Those who attend the soup-and-bread meal take home their locally hand-crafted bowl as a constant reminder of those less fortunate.

This year's empty bowl dinner -- the 11th -- will be held at the First Congregational Church in Williamstown on Friday.

"People come in for a simple meal of soup and bread," Schwarz said.

A plethora of local potters are donating hundreds of artisan bowls -- Schwarz was still hoping to gather more -- for the meal. Scores of different soups will be donated by a number of local chefs and restaurants.

Susan Nykiel and Ray Bub, owners of Oak Bluffs Cottage Pottery in Pownal, Vt., along with several of their students, have committed 65 bowls to this year's dinner. Bub helped co-found the event more than 20 years ago.

Susan Nykiel of Oak Bluffs Cottage Pottery in Pownal, Vt., glazes a bowl while some of the bowls that will be donated to the Empty Bowl Dinner, a
Susan Nykiel of Oak Bluffs Cottage Pottery in Pownal, Vt., glazes a bowl while some of the bowls that will be donated to the Empty Bowl Dinner, a fundraiser for the Berkshire Food Project, sit in the foreground. (Gillian Jones / Berkshire Eagle Staff / photos.berkshireeagle.com)
Classes at Bard's College at Simon's Rock in Great Barrington and the Buxton School in Williamstown will also craft dozens of bowls for the fundraiser, according to Schwarz.

As many as 30 restaurants have offered an eclectic mix of soups, including Wild Oats, the Williams Inn and the Gramercy Bistro.

"There are all kinds of different soups," Schwarz said. "You can try as many as you'd like."

Schwarz will be making a vegetarian red lentil and apricot soup, she said, while the Chef's Hat will be making an "unstuffed pepper" soup.

Although there's good soup and a great bowl to be had for event-goers, the funding is critical for the Berkshire Food Project, which provides a free meal to anyone five days a week out of its space at the First Congregational Church. In 2013, the organization provided 30,206 free meals.

Schwarz said the event typically brings in about $10,000, which goes a long way in helping the Berkshire Food Project provide the services it does.

"It's a lot of money for our agency," Schwarz said. "This fundraiser is important."

And, Bub pointed out, for a similar meal, and a hand-crafted bowl, it'd typically cost well more than $30.

"It's a good deal," Bub said.


If you go

What: 11th biennial Empty Bowl Dinner to benefit the Berkshire Food Project

When: Friday, April 25, 5 p.m., 7 p.m.

Where: First Congregational Church, 906 Main St., Williamstown

Cost: $30

Tickets: Can be purchased at Wild Oats Market in Williamstown or by calling the Berkshire Food Project at 413-664-7378.