From cream-based to vegan to a simple dessert soup, it’s the one night Fairbanks foodies come together to deem one lucky entity the best of the best — the top soup maker in Fairbanks.
Saturday is the 10th annual Soup Off, the fundraiser supporting Bread Line Inc. in which chefs, restaurants and cooks all worth their salt compete for the coveted Golden Ladle, the award given to the person or restaurant who takes home top honors as Fairbanks soup royalty. It starts at 6 p.m. at Westmark Hotel, 813 Noble St., and features more than 15 entrants putting their best bowls forward.
“The Soup Off is one of Fairbanks’ most popular yearly fundraisers,” said Hannah Hill, executive director of Bread Line Inc, the nonprofit agency that operates Stone Soup Cafe, which helps feed the hungry in Fairbanks. “From brand new food trucks, to the most established fine dining restaurants – everyone brings their best soup to vie for one of three prizes: The Golden Ladle, People’s Choice, and Best Use Of Local Ingredients. It’s a casual evening of delicious food for a very good cause.”
The Soup Off is Bread Line’s largest annual fundraiser, Hill said, and one of the primary funding sources for Bread Line’s anti-hunger programs. Last year, the Stone Soup Cafe soup kitchen served more than 31,000 free meals to Fairbanksans in need; the Stone Soup Community Garden harvested thousands of pounds of produce for its programs; and the culinary job training program, Stone’s Throw, saw a 100% employment rate after graduation.
“It’s big work that is only possible though community support,” Hill said. “We have a staff of just five and over 200 volunteers who do a lot with very little.”
That’s where Soup Off comes in. In addition to guests tasting and judging local soups, the night also features live music, silent and dessert auctions, and a raffle with prizes such as two roundtrip Alaska Airlines tickets, a catered Super Bowl party plus a big screen TV, and a weeks stay at a condo on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
“This being the 10th annual Soup Off is huge,” Hill said. “Who’d ever think that the little soup kitchen that could would be host to one of the biggest nonprofit events in Fairbanks? It goes to show that when you listen to the people, the right things happen. Y’all want soup? You’ll get soup.”
Participants for this year’s Soup Off include Lane’s Quickie Tacos, The Westmark, The Carlson Center, Stone’s Throw, Hilltop Truck Stop, Stir It Up!, Lavelle’s Bistro, The Fire, Lemongrass, Hari Om, Garden Island Deli, Sun Sprout Café, Stone Soup Café, Chartwells at UAF, Soba, Tots Proper, and Aurora. Guest judges include Kathy and Dennis Gettinger, Chef Sean Walklin, and Chef Chef John Buchholtz. Tickets are $40 each, $30 for military, available online at breadlineAK.org.
“This whole event — our whole organization, really — would not be possible without the dedication of our incredible volunteers,” Hill said. “We could not do what we do without our volunteers. These fine Fairbanksans not only serve every weekday morning in our soup kitchen, they make the Soup Off happen. Everyone gives as they can. We hope you’ll join us for the 10th annual Soup Off and enjoy.”
Contact Features Editor Gary Black at 459-7504 or at twitter.com/FDNMfeatures. He also is one of the judges for this year’s Soup Off.
If You Go
What:10th annual Soup Off
When: 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18
Where: Westmark Hotel, 813 Noble St.
Tickets:$30-40 each, available online at breadlineAK.org