Benefit event features soups by local chefs, bowls by local potters.

--Guests choose bowls to take home
--On The Rise Board President Joshua Gerber and Executive Director Martha Sandler
--Soups from 9 local restaurants

A menu of epicurean soups and a display of hand-crafted pottery bowls by area artisans drew a crowd Saturday for the Third Annual Empty Bowls luncheon at the Puritan & Company Restaurant, 1166 Cambridge Street, Inman Square. The event was a benefit for On The Rise Inc., a day program based nearby at 341 Broadway; it aids women who are homeless or in need of basic support services.

Baskets of freshly baked bread from the Nashoba Brook Bakery of Concord flanked an impressive line-up of soup tureens containing specialties from nine—count them, nine—near-by restaurants: spinach-garlic-chicken soup from the 1369 Coffee House; sopa de tortilla from Olé; potato and leek soup from Druid; chicken with wild rice from City Girl Café; French onion from the Lord Hobo saloon; gumbo from Tupelo; chili from the All Star Sandwich Bar; pozole from Trina’s Starlite Lounge. Tomato soup was provided by the host establishment, Puritan & Company. When asked for the secret of its special flavor, general manager/co-owner Chris Yorty went back to the kitchen and printed out chef Will Gilson’s recipe, which featured fresh vegetables and basil plus a dollop of extra virgin olive oil.

One customer said she was going to try everything, but she gave up after four servings. “I’ll just have to come again,” she said.

Meanwhile, people looked over the pottery bowls, donated by Feet of Clay Studio in Brookline and MIT’s Student Art Association. Some of the artists, like Dennis Jen, were on hand as well. Each person who bought a ticket could take home one of the bowls, which could also be bought for $25.

Guests were welcomed by board members and staff from On The Rise, the beneficiary of the event. Board President Joshua Gerber spoke briefly, thanking donors and participants and pointing the way to the refreshments and the bowl display. As owner and manager of the two 1369 Coffee Houses, he has succeeded his uncle Gerry Wolf in the businesses and also as an active On The Rise volunteer and supporter. Both men have also been long-time participants in Cambridge Local First and other civic organizations.

Executive Director Martha Sandler also greeted attendees, and she shared some information about the organization.

"On The Rise was founded in 1995 by Katya Fels Smyth," she said. "Last year we worked with more than 400 women at our Safe Haven and in the neighborhood. They are homeless or formerly homeless women, in urgent need of the kinds of services, advocacy, and connections that On The Rise offers to bring stability and well-being to their lives. Today's gathering of businesses and individuals helps us to do that. It is a wonderful example of how committed and supportive this community can be, and what we can accomplish together."