Words and pictures by Jo Dickins

Empty Bowls is about amazing soups, from top chefs, like FRANK’s duck consommé; and charming people like these one’s around Terroni’s table.

On May 19, I enjoyed my second visit to the Empty Bowls fundraiser at the Gardiner Museum – which isn’t saying much as the event is in its 18th year. For a mere $45, guests get to choose and keep a unique, handmade bowl, and taste (if they can manage it) 20 different soups by a selection of the top chefs in the city… all in a beautiful space, on a gorgeous spring day… and, ALL the proceeds go to the Anishnawbe Health Centre for aboriginal people in downtown Toronto. You had me at “soup”! The spirit of the event and its participants is infectious and uplifting. Congratulations to the Gardiner Museum’s Siobhan Boyd and all the contributors on a fabulous event. Here is some of what I saw.

Ace Bakery provided the bread and also served a vibrant Roasted Asparagus Soup with Lemon Crème Fraiche.

Frank AGO’s Anne Yarymowich and Delica Kitchen’s Devin Connell.

Conveniently, for me, many guests chose bowls to complement their outfits.

Scaramouche’s Keith Frogget’s black bean soup in a pre-garnished bowl; ladies dish.

Team Cowbell was the unofficial winner of “best display”; Mark Cutrara does some quality control on their lovely Elk soup.

A dapper bowl bearer, and friendly sunlit faces from George, including sous Fiona Lim, serve chef Lorenzo Loseto’s Artichoke and Leek soup

My hart house homies, Suzanne Baby and Jerry Horton from the Gallery Grill presented their Chilled Poblano puree with fromage frais in a silver trophy cup; a guest at the Delica Kitchens table.

Co-host Jamie Kennedy at his happiest, i.e. feeding people, and his refreshing Rhubarb Jelly soup.

Ted Corrado’s C5 team had another fan favourite, judging from the buzz in the crowd: Spring Kimchi soup with sous vide Berkshire pork shoulder, 61 degree egg, ramp, Ontario Asparagus, and grilled Shitake Mushrooms.

Martin Kouprie of Pangaea brought along a beautiful BC spot prawn bisque with coconut and lime; The Healthy Butcher’s woodsy display of fiddleheads and miyake mushrooms.

A bowl moves in to partake of The Healthy Butcher’s Chef Jonathan Abraham’s Venison consommé with braised rabbit and spring vegetables, which my camera seemed to like; Stratford represented with Lake Huron Whitefish Chowder by Bryan Steele from the Old Prune and Stratford Chef School.

A guest at the Gilead Café and Bistro table; the Pantry boys, Eric Walker and Greg Bolton share a laugh (Chef Eric did a Smoked Ontario Whitefish and bacon Fritter in Sorrel broth).

Paramour’s Laura Malin ready to dish out her Spring Vegetable Minestrone with Yukon Gold Gnocchi; soup and bread… mmmmmm… really, what food reaches the soul faster?

Gilead’s Scott Birss beams; more quality control, this time for Trish Donnelly and Renee Bellefeuille‘s Oyster Boy version of Lobster Bisque with wild leek and crème fraiche.

As a photographer, my hands are always kind of full but I did manage to try Scott Vivian’s Puy lentil soup with Chorizo and Cumin Crema… two thumbs up; a food-politics celebrity mid spoon-delivery.

Ace and Evelyn’s bread and crackers, respectively; a radiant soup-enjoyer.

More Terroni action: Giovanni Alonzi’s offering was Ciceri e Tria (slow cooked chick peas with pasta).

Jo Dickins is a Toronto-based professional photographer. Find out more about Jo Dickins at jodickins.com.

[Photo: John Gundy.]