The time is rapidly approaching for the pouring of succulent piping hot soups from local restaurants to be poured into one-of-a-kind ceramic bowls to raise money for the Leadership Marco Scholarship Fund.
Now in its fifth year, the Souper Bowl raised a record $16,000 last year, up from the previous record of $12,000 in 2015. The event’s organizer, the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce, combined the 2016 proceeds with $2,000 from the organization’s Wet Paint Live fundraiser to award eight post-secondary scholarships for high school seniors from the island.
Set for 11 AM, February 4 at Mackle Park, the event features bowls, hand-crafted and painted by students from Tommie Barfield Elementary School, Marco Island Charter Middle School, Marco Island Academy and Lely High School. The unique vessels are sold to attendees, who can then have them filled with the sumptuous soups prepared and donated by ten Marco restaurants.
The cost is $15 per person, which will include a silent auction of artists’ serving bowls, children’s activities and raffles.
A pre-sale session will be held on February 3 from 3-6 PM to reserve a specific bowl, something that is especially popular with parents, said Desiree Buhelos, who organizes the Souper Bowl. Buhelos, co-owner of the Boat House Motel, is assisted by Jada Shigley, director of reservations for the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort.
“The Tommie Barfield students really look forward to it,” said Buhelos, who is also the event’s founder. “It’s unbelievable watching their faces as they look for their bowls.”
About 700 bowls were created for Souper Bowl 2016, all of them snapped up by attendees. Buhelos said that type of interest from the community is the foundation of the event’s success. “We really appreciate the community’s support,” she said. “We couldn’t do this without a community that backs us 100 percent.”
That sentiment was echoed by Lisa Meurgue of Bistro Soleil, which has participated in the Souper Bowl every year of its existence. “We have a very good turnout every year,” she said “The community comes out strong for it and it raises money for the kids, which is a great thing.”
The ten participating restaurants took part in a Q&A that provides a glimpse into their chef’s Souper Bowl 2017 soup selection, as well as the restaurants themselves. The responses from five of the eateries are below:
Bistro Soleil – Lisa Meurge
100 Palm Street, Marco Island
When did your restaurant open, and how long has it been on Marco Island: We opened Bistro Soleil in December 2008, but the Olde Marco Inn is an “island” institution, dating back to 1883.
How would you describe your restaurant: Old Florida charm, serving fresh French cuisine and seafood specialties with a Florida twist. There are none of the heavy sauces that most people associate with French cuisine, lighter sauces created by Denis (my husband and the chef) for Florida weather.
Why do you take part in Souper Bowl: My friend, Desiree Buhelos of the Boat House Motel and a fellow committee member, was the “brains” behind this event. She had a vision and asked me if I would help with the restaurant part of organizing this. I could not say no to my friend. Once she explained what she wanted to do, why she wanted to do it and how she wanted to raise more scholarship money for local students, we were in. It did not take much to get us on-board. All she had to do was ask!
Why are such events important to the community: Events like this that bring the community together for a fun day and raise money for deserving students to further their education are very important to our family. We are a family owned and operated business and believe in supporting our community, the same community that supports our businesses. Our community has given our family so much and in turn, we want to give back to it.
What soup will you prepare: We will be serving the same soup we have served since the inception of this event, the very popular, cream of wild mushrooms topped with fried onion straws and a dollop of cream, scented with Madeira wine.
Can you provide any information on the soup’s ingredients: Fresh mushrooms, veal stock and heavy cream.
What makes your restaurant stand out: We are located in an historic, charming building, The Olde Marco Inn. Many of our guests say that they feel like they are coming into “our home” when they come to Bistro Soleil, greeted with a warm welcome and smile, piano music by the very talented Dan Vass, fresh French food with a Florida twist, served by our friendly staff who make every effort to ensure an enjoyable evening.
What are some of your favorite dishes on your menu: That’s like asking me which one of my children is my favorite. I enjoy the baked brie, pan-seared foie gras, tomato basil soup gratinee with Swiss and blue cheese, beef tenderloin wrapped with bacon gratinee with blue cheese, mushroom risotto, our signature dish: roasted filet of grouper topped with crabmeat served with a lemon caper butter sauce and any of our homemade desserts: chocolate fondant, apple tarte or our beignets, which is the recipe of my mother-in-law, are among my favorites.
What are your restaurant’s hours and days of operation: In season, (after the “other” Super Bowl) Bistro Soleil is open every day starting at 5:30 PM.
CJ’s on the Bay – Chef Laura Owen
740 N. Collier Blvd., Marco Island
When did your restaurant open, and how long has it been on Marco Island: Curt and Jacquie Koon purchased the restaurant in March 2008. We began business as CJ’s on the Bay on September 20, 2008. We are in our ninth season.
How would you describe your restaurant: CJ’s all-day menu offers a variety of fare, with breathtaking views of Smokehouse Bay and Southwest Florida sunsets.
How long have you participated in Souper Bowl and why do you take part: CJ’s on the Bay is an inaugural participant in this event.
Why are these type events important to the community: Raising funds to help local students further their education not only enriches our students’ potential, but is an investment in thecontinued growth of Marco Island.
What soup will you be preparing: Stuffed pepper soup.
How would you describe the soup if it were an item on a menu or if a patron asked about it: This hearty soup, chock full of ground Angus beef, sweet bell peppers and white rice will warm your soul.
Can you provide any information on the ingredients in the soup: This is more of a “stew.” It is very thick and meaty.
What makes your restaurant stand out: CJ’s on the Bay is one of a small handful of waterfront restaurants on Marco Island.
What are some of your favorite dishes on your menu: Our fresh local seafood is my favorite! Stone crab claws, Gulf oysters, black grouper, mahi mahi. Yum!
What are your restaurant’s hours and days of operation: CJ’s on the Bay is open daily, 11 AM to 10 PM.
Marker 8.5 – Co-owner Michael Duncan
123 Bayshore Way, Goodland
When did your restaurant open, and how long has it been on Marco Island: June 2013.
How would you describe your restaurant: American steak and seafood.
How long have you participated in Souper Bowl and why do you take part: For two years and to support the community and get our brand out there.
Why are these types of events important to the community: They help people who are less fortunate.
What soup will you be preparing: Our signature soup is “Marker 8 and a Half.”
How would you describe the soup if it were an item on a menu or if a patron asked about it: It’s a half-and-half chowder: half red Bahamian Conch and white clam chowder, beside each other in a bowl.
Can you provide any information on the ingredients in the soup: Grade-A conch and coquille clams.
What makes your restaurant stand out: We won the Taste Of Marco two years in a row. We are very unique. I have been an executive chef for 40 years and we use only the highest quality products.
What are some of your favorite dishes on your menu: The Snapper Tower, Key Largo Grouper and Duncan’s Cheesy Grits with Shrimp.
What are your restaurant’s hours and days of operation: Daily 8 AM to 9 PM. Whole hog BBQ on weekends.
Philly Grille – Owners Bianca and Edgar Perez
1000 N. Collier Blvd., Marco Island
When did your restaurant open, and how long has it been on Marco Island: The Philly Grille has been open for the past six years on Marco Island.
How would you describe your restaurant: The Philly Grille has a new American cuisine with a casual, rustic atmosphere. We serve lunch and dinner with daily specials and entrees.
How long have you participated in Souper Bowl and why do you take part: This is our second year participating. We take part to support our students and the Leadership Marco Scholarship Fund.
Why are these types of events important to the community: It is important to give back to the community of Marco Island and to support fundraising events.
What soup will you be preparing: Escarole and White Bean
How would you describe the soup if it were an item on a menu or if a patron asked about it: Fresh escarole and white bean in a chicken broth seasoned with Italian herbs.
What makes your restaurant stand out: The Philly Grille has a unique menu with many gluten free options. Everything is made from scratch like our fresh mozzarella, flatbreads and desserts. Our chef’s attention to detail and creative selections provide a memorable dining experience.
What are some of your favorite dishes on your menu: House made mozzarella and tomato salad, Lobster Roll, Quinoa Salmon Salad and of course, our signature Philly Steak Sandwich.
What are your restaurant’s hours and days of operation: For lunch, Monday through Friday, 11 AM to 2 PM and Monday through Saturday for dinner, starting at 5 PM.
Pincher’s Marco Island – Jarrod Cain
591 South Collier Blvd., Marco Island
When did your restaurant open, and how long has it been on Marco Island: The first Pinchers opened up in Bonita Springs in 1997. We have since grown to 12 locations, from Tampa to Key West, the newest being our Marco Island location, which opened up in early December 2016.
How would you describe your restaurant: “Florida Seafood, Florida Style.” We seek to provide a family-fun “Florida” environment, while serving the freshest product available.
How long have you participated in Souper Bowl and why do you take part: This will be Pinchers’ first year participating in this event. We are excited to be a part of the event this year, now that our newest addition has come online on Marco and we hope to continue its promotion.
Why are these types of events important to the community: They bring people in the community together. Also this event I believe is primarily meant to support aspiring students by providing funds.
What soup will you be preparing: Corn and crab chowder (with fresh blue-lump crab meat).
How would you describe the soup if it were an item on a menu or if a patron asked about it: It is a cream-based beauty chock full of blue lump crab, corn and a pinch of pepper to bring a little zing.
Can you provide any information on the ingredients in the soup: Blue lump crab meat, corn, pepper.
What makes your restaurant stand out: Pinchers is not a chain, it’s still a family owned and operated business that has very close relationships with the community by doing events, fundraisers, caterings, promotions, giveaways, etc. Also, our partnership with Island Crab Company allows us to deliver fresh product from the Gulf daily to all of our locations.
What are some of your favorite dishes on your menu: The cheesy crab nachos and the crab rangoon are two of my favorite appetizers. But it’s hard to beat a good old-fashioned stone crab pulled from our very own traps.
What are your restaurant’s hours and days of operation: We are open daily, from 11 AM to 10 PM.