A persistent morning drizzle didn’t dampen the mood at the 20th annual Souper Bowl in Albuquerque. Lines of supporters wrapped around Roadrunner Food Bank’s massive warehouse at 5840 Office NE. Once inside, row after row of restaurants dished out Dixie cups of soups and desserts — and vied for the food bank’s top culinary honors.
“You couldn’t even move, it was so packed,” says @Pay Director of Product Development Nora Zulick.
@Pay staff members spent the morning volunteering for the event as parking lot attendants, trading in their MacBook Airs for orange safety vests. Despite the crush of attendees, the @Pay team says they had the parking situation under control. “We had a strategy, ” confides Zulick. “And,” she adds, “everyone was super nice and really appreciative of what we were doing. Several people said ‘Thanks’ and empathized that we were out in the rain. Everyone was just really kind.”
After their shift, the @Pay folks were welcomed inside to get a taste of the Souper Bowl for themselves. In addition to music from a live band, a universal highlight was getting to talk one-on-one with the chefs who’d personally made the soups. And then there was the soup.
“There was so much … there was so much food,” says (obviously still-full) Account Manger Robert Cortese. “It was sensory overload.”
@Pay CEO John Killoran, who brought his son Sean along for day, agrees. “The soups were amazing. Although by the tenth one, I was starting to lose my balance,” he says, smiling. “There’s so much flavor going on.”
Some of the staff’s favorites? A green chile stew that set mouths on fire. A luscious Thai-style green curry. A cream-laden green chile chicken. A hearty potato pesto. A velvety lobster bisque. And topping everyone’s list: Bien Shur‘s airy white chocolate bisque with red chile swirl and hazelnut crumble. “That was different and lovely,” says Killoran. “That red chile oil was so subtle that it pulled the soup away from richness to yummmm. I had that one three times.”
The @Pay folks say they’ll be back for more next year, even if they don’t go as volunteers. And, we can assume, even if it doesn’t rain again.
Learn more about Roadrunner Food bank and get the official Souper Bowl XX list of winning restaurants at www.rrfb.org.