South Side community holds the 12th annual soup contest along with 50 businesses and restaurants all across the South Side Flats and Works
By: Autumn Barszczowski
All Photos via South Side Soup Contest
On a sunny day in February, people from all walks of life, such as VIP ticket-buyer Alicia Kenney, tasted soups from various restaurants stationed in local businesses as she walked the streets of South Side in search of the best soup.
Along with Kenney and about 1,200 others, including Jacki Delaney and Celine Roberts, attendees of the South Side Soup Contest enjoyed a variety of soups that ranged anywhere from Eat‘n Park’s Potato Soup to The Smiling Mooses’ Chipotle Chickpea Chili
Every year for the past twelve years, the South Side Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Brashear Association, have hosted the South Side Soup Contest, that allows 25 restaurants and bars to collaborate with 25 businesses in order to bring awareness to the “daytime South Side.” This year the event was from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 21, anywhere between 10th Street and 27th Street in the South Side.
The picture above depicts the containers of soup given to participants in the South Side Soup Contest. This was at Stop 25 during the contest on Feb. 21 2016 of this year. The people hosting this event wanted to show people some of the soups that were offered during their event so people got a taste of what the contest is all about.
“It’s basically an experience where you get the best of both worlds; both retail and restaurants in one location,” said Jennifer Jeffers, the event chair of the contest. “It’s a way to experience daytime South Side and the best of what it has to offer.”
It was started by the South Side Local Development Company in order to support the business corridor, since most of the attention has gone to the bars and restaurants in the South Side, particularly at night.
Over the past twelve years, the event has grown from just generating traffic for businesses; now they are also earning money and food donations for the Brashear Association and their food pantry since they added both General Admission tickets for $25 and VIP tickets for $100.
The VIP experience began two years ago and is a party within a party. It includes a pre-event reception at City Theatre with coffee, mimosas, and pastries. There is an honorary meet and greet with Rick Sebak as well as other types of entertainment,“swag bags,” and soup tastings only for VIP ticket holders.
“I really loved that there were unlimited mimosas,” said VIP attendee, Alicia Kenney. It was her fourth or fifth year at the contest and she said she enjoys the event because it is a great way to try soups that you would never try on a regular basis.
While the contest only started with two awards, which were best soup and first runner-up, the contest has now grown to include four awards, including runner-up: Best Overall Soup, Best Host, Best Vegetarian Soup, and Most Unique Soup.
This year the Best Overall Soup went to Carmella’s Plates & Pints for its Mushroom Bisque with Crispy Duck Root Vegetable soup.
Workers at Carmella’s Plates & Pints pose with the People’s Choice trophy won for their Crispy Duck Root Vegetable Soup. This took place at Carmella’s on February 21st after the contest had ended and winners were being announced. They were glad to pose with their trophy that will sit in their shop for the next year.
Carmella’s soup “was creamy, mushroomy…bacony…,” said Jacki Delany. She believed that the soup had a smokey taste and she was able to identify some of the particular flavors in the soup.
This was Delany’s first time attending the contest and she was excited, saying that she loved soup so much that she could eat it for three meals a day.
As for the first runner-up, the prize went to The Pub Chip Shop for its Beer Cheese Chowder.
It had a creamy base and attendees like Celine Roberts could taste potato and a little bit of bacon. People had spent the day raving about the soup and the contest in general.
This was only Roberts first time at the event but she seemed enthusiastic about it. “I love food. So anyway that I can eat food and help people, I want to be a part of,” said Roberts.
As for Best Host, Five Star Dentistry won for hosting Carmella’s Plates & Pints.
They had a S’mores station next to the line in the front of the building and while walking through the business with their cup of soup, they were able to grab free toothbrushes and toothpaste. When they exited the business, they were offered bottles of water as well as hot dogs made fresh on the grill.
The Best Vegetarian soup was Butternut Squash soup made by Stagioni, last year’s Best Overall Soup winner. “It is really warm and subtle,” said Lucretiz Collins.
The final award is Most Unique which went to Lin’s Asian Fusion for its Mango soup. They were the only soup “on ice” as the soup handlers told attendees as they walked into the building.
“It’s a little fruity, and sweet, but it has like a little tang after it,” said Judy Sippey.
She loved the event, particularly because the money goes to a good cause. “It’s also fun to walk the streets carrying a spoon,” said Sippey.
Others were happy to praise the event for what it does for the South Side neighborhood.
“It was Soup-er,” said Janet Edwards, with what she called her “soup posse.” She believed that the event was representative of Pittsburgh.
Even the Presenting Sponsor, First National Bank, a sponsor who has contributed since the beginning, was ecstatic about the impact of the event.
“We are helping out the community that we serve,” said Ron Giulianelli, Senior Vice President and Marketing Manager at FNB. “It’s a way to get the food of the restaurant or bar establishment out there as well as driving consumers into specific businesses.