Chef Russell Pryzbek of loves the folk story and children's book "Stone Soup" (written by Marcia Brown in 1947).
It's the story about those who are hungry luring others into contributing to their stone soup, convincing villagers to add "just a little something" until the final product with the combined ingredients is a feast that benefits them all. People may not think they have much to contribute, or not see the value of their contributions, but the story is a lesson in generosity, and teaches that the sum is greater than the parts.
"I've owned a business in West Hartford for over 30 years. I give back to my community. I love the book 'Stone Soup,'" said Pryzbek. Last year he stumbled upon a large cast iron cauldron at Cabella's in East Hartford.
That gave him an idea, and the Family Vegetable Swap and Stone Soup Challenge for Charity was born.
Now in its second year – and it will continue, Pryzbek says – those attending the fundraiser are asked to bring their excess vegetables and herbs. You can swap them for others' excess produce (have too many tomatoes but really need some cucmbers for homemade gazpacho?) and also contribute some of your bounty to the pot of stone soup. Pryzbek will also contribute produce from his garden.
When the batch of stone soup is ready, Pryzbek will sell it for $10 per quart, with all of the proceeds going to the West Hartford Food Pantry.
"Farm to table, organic, they're all 'in,'" Pryzbek said. This concept creates a product that comes straight from the community, and will directly help the food pantry without costing anyone.
The event will be held on Sunday, Sept. 9, from noon to 3 p.m., at Russell's Creative Global Cuisine on Jefferson Ave. Last year it raised $600, but Pryzbek hopes to have 200-300 people attend this year and greatly increase that figure.
Last year he also realized that the enormous pot of stone soup took a long time to cook, and he couldn't sell it until it was done. So this year, Pryzbek has recruited other local chefs to create and donate smaller batches of soup, which will be available for sale earlier in the day. Pryzbek will have ingredients from his own larder available to enhance those soups – different types of stock, cooked beans, cooked chicken – and donated produce will also be added.
Adam Greenberg and Jason Welch from , Billy Grant from and , Carrie Boucher from , Jeffrey Lizotte from ON20, , , and more, will each be supporting the fundraiser with a unique soup of their own.
"My goal this year is to be as helpful as I can and raise as much money as possible for the West Hartford Food Pantry," Pryzbek said. "My dream is that another town will join in, and it would be really wonderful if every town in Connecticut had Stone Soup Day."
Representatives from the food pantry will be on hand at the event, explaining what they do. Pryzbek said many residents are surprised at how many are needy right here in West Hartford. "The community has supported us over the years. We really need to help," he said.
has donated bread to be sold along with the soups. Other goods and services have also been donated from local companies including , Timline Paper Products, Party Warehouse, and .
Other businesses, like and , have also contributed to a teacup auction.
"This is our main donation back to the community," said Pryzbek, who urges people to "come and join the fun!"
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