Soupfest celebrates 15 delicious years
Hamilton’s favourite soup festival is turning 15 – and organizers are cooking up a special celebration to mark the anniversary.
Soupfest, the annual fundraiser for Living Rock Ministries, will see 22 restaurants face off on Tuesday, Feb. 28 for the titles of best soup, most creative soup and best display.
The festival offers Hamiltonians a chance to come together during a traditionally chilly time of year – despite this month’s often balmy weather, said Julie Conway, operations director at Living Rock.
“Every year, we just really hope to draw the community together to experience some fun and fellowship in the middle of winter,” Conway says. “It really does offer something for people to look forward to.”
This year’s competition includes a special twist – a Top Chef-style event that will see three Hamiltonians create an on-the fly concoction as they compete for the title of “Souper Chef.” The participants – Pete Mitropoulos from the Thirsty Cactus, Darryl Beach from the Harbour Diner and James Kayser from Butcher & Vegan – will each create a soup based on a vegan stock provided by chef Jay Gibbons from the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club.
Each will use 15 ingredients (a nod to the festival’s 15th anniversary) to create a soup in 45 minutes.
“It’s a fun competition that will really highlight the expertise of our chefs,” Conway says.
Another new addition is a shuttle bus that organizers hope will help alleviate parking concerns raised in past years. Buses will run between Bayfront Park (which has room for 225 cars) and the Convention Centre between 11:15 a.m. and 8:15 p.m. There’s no set schedule, but the buses will wait for five minutes at each location before driving back.
Last year, the festival raised $80,000, Conway says, and after recouping $30,000 in expenses, Living Rock took home $50,000 to help run its programs for at-risk youth. Each week, the agency prepares 900 meals, provides emergency food to 200 youths every week, and offers prenatal and parenting, crisis and housing support. Plus, more than 200 young people participate in Living Rock’s life skills and employment training workshops each year.
“We hope that people also feel a sense of pride by coming to the event and supporting youth,” says Conway.
Soupfest runs from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Hamilton Convention Centre by Carmen’s. Tickets are $12 in advance (available at Living Rock Youth Resource Centre, 30 Wilson
St.) or at the door for $15. For more information, visit livingrock.ca/ events/soupfest.
Soupfest, shown here last year, is turning 15 and has added a couple of new features to celebrate.