Cloudy skies and light rain made it the perfect day for the fifth annual Stewpot Alliance Soup's On! Luncheon at Omni Dallas, because guests would soon warm up with gourmet soup. Upon entrance, the smell of savory goodness wafted through the hotel, taunting taste buds for the upcoming meal.
Before sitting down, guests admired and purchased artwork made by artists in The Stewpot Art Program. When the clock struck 12, they made their way to the ballroom, where the Booker T. Washington High School Wind Symphony and Varsity Choir performed inspiring songs such as "America the Beautiful," "Man in the Mirror" and "Love Can Build a Bridge."
Master of ceremonies Steve Blow, who volunteers at The Stewpot, reminded guests of 508 Park Avenue, the Stewpot's resource program to bring people together via education, music and art. After a brief introduction and many thanks to luncheon chairs Trish Weigand and Kay Lunceford and honorary chairs Joan and Elvis Mason, the soup was served.
Designated chef chairman Brian C. Luscher of The Grape rounded up 13 top local chefs to re-create their signature soups and share the recipes with attendees:
- Randall Copeland of Restaurant Ava
- Bruno Davaillon of Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek
- Omar Flores of Driftwood
- Keith Hanks of Capital Grille
- Abraham Salum and Al Havens of Salum
- Jason Maddy of Oak
- Danyele McPherson of The Grape
- Chad Kelley of Cafe Pacific
- Janice Provost of Parigi
- Anastasia Quiñones of Komali
- Nathan Tate of Boulevardier
- Jason Weaver of Omni Dallas
Luscher thanked all of the chefs and commended all of the supporters who helped The Stewpot reach the milestone of serving its 5 millionth meal last July. Then keynote speaker Wes Moore — author, United States Army veteran, Rhodes Scholar and John Hopkins University alum — took center stage.
Moore, a self-made man, walked right past the podium and into the spotlight, in front of the hundreds of guests. He spoke of the experiences that led him to write The Other Wes Moore, sharing the struggles he encountered during his childhood living in a rough neighborhood in Baltimore and the turning point that enabled him to change his destiny.
"What changed was being surrounded by people who showed me that the world was bigger than what was in front of me," Moore said.
After a motivating and heart-wrenching speech, the whole audience — including Mickie and Mayor Mike Rawlings, Lane Evans, Jane Evans, Monica Smith, Sarah Nelson, Lisa Pearrow, Robyn Conlon, Beth Conlon, Courtney Luscher, Patti Jones, and Jana Rentzel — stood in applause.
In addition to the stack of recipe cards from participating chefs, guests walked away with soup bowls painted by kids in The Stewpot's Saturday School program and a special coin created by local sculptor Brad Oldham.
The annual Soups On! Luncheon supports The Stewpot Alliance, which spreads awareness about the Stewpot — the largest provider for meals at The Bridge, Dallas' homeless assistance center — and its impactful programs.