Have you heard of the Empty Bowl project? It’s an international grassroots effort to fight hunger, created in the 1990s by the Imagine Render Group in Michigan. In cities around the world, potters and craftspeople make thousands of handcrafted bowls, and the public is invited to have a simple meal of soup and bread (for a donation) and keep a bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world.
I couldn’t find information on how often other cities have this event, but in Honolulu, it’s only done every other year to keep up with the demand. When Honolulu first held the event in 2009, they sold more than 700 bowls in an hour and a half. In 2010, the event didn’t go on because the Hawaii Potters Guild couldn’t make 3,000 bowls in time for the event, so they made another 1,000 and were used for the 2011 event, shown here. This year, the Potters Guild — which included talented craftspeople and students from around the island, as well — said they made 5,000 bowls, but I think it was closer to 7,000. The event drew about 5,500 people, some of whom held multiple tickets so they could have more bowls.
If you’ve never been to the event, the process is simple: You are allowed to choose one ceramic bowl from the thousands on display. Then, you can choose one soup from just one of the 20 participating restaurants. If you want to buy another bowl, you buy a whole new ticket. You can’t buy the ceramic bowls ala carte, and you can’t buy the soups ala carte.
Participating restaurants included Big City Diner, Café Kaila, Café Laufer, Great Life Cuisine, Hula Grill, JJ Bistro & French Pastry, Le Bistro, Mariposa at Neiman Marcus, Murphy’s Bar & Grill, Roy’s Restaurants, Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar, Side Street Inn, Stage Restaurant, Tango, The Pineapple Room, 3660 on the Rise, Tiki’s Grill & Bar, Town, 12th Avenue Grill, Whole Foods Kahala and Whole Foods Kailua. Here are some of the soups and the volunteers behind them.
Since there were so many people, we have a sampling of pics to show you some of the thousands of people who attended the event. You can see more photos, here.