Submitted by Deb Lemkow –
Each year the Ottawa Guild of Potters hosts the fundraising event Great Bowls of Fire (GBOF) for the Ottawa Food Bank. This year the event will take place on Saturday, March 23 at the Glebe Community Centre, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Now in its 14th year, donations raised to date are $179,500, boosting the purchasing power of the Ottawa Food Bank to $897,000 as every dollar donated equals $5 of food delivered to the community.
GBOF is a fundraising event originating from the now international Empty Bowls non-profit organization. In a Michigan high school, 1990, an art teacher suggested to ceramic students who wished to participate in a local food drive to make bowls and invite high school staff to a meal of soup in return for donations. Staff were then told to keep the bowls to remind them of those less fortunate.
The success of the Ottawa event is due to the involvement of a large community of generous and returning volunteers. Local potters donate the more than 400 beautifully crafted handmade bowls which guests can choose from. Before going home with their new owners, these bowls are filled with delicious soups accompanied by delectable breads and sweets donated by some of the best restaurants and bakeries in the city.
This year’s line-up of participants is Kitchissippi-heavy, with nine out of the sixteen featured bowl-makers potting out of Kitchissippi-based studios, and with four restaurants out of thirteen also from Kitchissippi. Loam Clay Studio hosts bowl-makers Christine Chesser, Emily Dore, and Shaina Lipsey. Gladstone Clayworks Coop – pottery studio and gallery includes bowl-makers Amy Bell, Ada Brzeski, Sarah Dobbin, and Barbara Minish. Studio home-potters Jane Snider and Deb Lemkow round up the Kitchissippi line up, while bowl makers Suzanne Denney and Katherine King have studios elsewhere, and instruct at Kitchissippi’s Hintonburg Pottery Shop.
Absinthe and Thyme and Again have been faithful contributors to the event since GBOF’s inception 14 years ago. This year, Absinthe will be serving a mushroom velouté while Thyme and Again will be offering curry cauliflower and apple with cilantro oil and crunchy spiced chickpeas (gluten-free and vegan). Rounding up the area’s restaurants, Pure Kitchen will be serving Andalusian stew and The Table will be serving an as yet to be determined, vegetarian offering.
In addition to Kitchissippi restaurateurs, this year’s line up to date, includes: Black Walnut Bakery, Il Primo, Life of Pie, Longfield Davidson, Olive and Chili, Pelican seafood Grill, The Red Apron, Soup Guy Café, TastersHub, The Joy of Gluten Free, Trillium Bakery and Wild Oat. The evening will be hosted by returning Derick Fage, of Breakfast Television Montreal with “Bob at the Piano” providing entertainment. Other featured bowl-makers include: Carol Badenoch, Lisa Binkowski, Kirstin Davidson, Debra Ducharme, and Kim Lulashnyk. There will be both silent and live auctions with pieces donated by many potters in the Ottawa area. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes, in addition to the above-mentioned contributors, some twenty-five plus volunteers (including nine Nepean High School students) are required for this event.
Tickets are available at Thyme and Again (1255 Wellington St. W) at the Life of Pie (1095 Bank St), and at Capital Pottery (877 Boyd Ave.) for $45.
Deb Lemkow is a potter and a volunteer with Great Bowls of Fire.