16th Habitat Cookin’ to Build a Success

Enjoying the soups and chili at Cookin to Build. Photo by Lee Rennick.

The 16th Annual Habitat Cookin’ to Build drew close to 1,000 people at last month’s event. It was sunny with a slight chill in the air, making it a great day for a bowl of chili or soup. And there was plenty of both, as well as root beer floats from State Farm and other sweet treats. 

With strains of some of Rock’n Roll’s greatest hits supplied by the band Memory Train filling the air, there was a party atmosphere as neighbors greeted neighbors and old friends shared bites of everything from vegan stew to spicy lentil soup to many varieties of chili and just about everything in between. 

Competition was fierce among the 29 participating service clubs and businesses. This year’s winning entries were:

  • First Place: Oakland Archery Club
  • Second Place: Hammer Down for Habitat
  • Third Place: Heritage South Federal Credit Union
  • Fourth Place: Smyrna Rotary Club
  • Fifth Place: Middle Tennessee Electric

The Oakland High School’s Archery Club Team was the hit of the event with their tomato soup and freshly made garlic herb bread. 

Hammer Down for Habitat is the group that coordinates the annual Habitat for Humanity Poker Run in September for cars, bikes, bicycles and this year even runners, explained Rickard Luneack. They served Zuppa Toscana, which is a hearty sausage and potato cream soup. 

Desserts were provided by Double Tree Hotel, Lion’s Club, Sweet Addiction, members of St. Rose of Lima congregation, Zaxby’s and many Habitat homeowners. Everything was very tasty and much enjoyed, like the homemade chocolate brownies and DoubleTree Hotel’s famously rich chocolate chip cookies. 

“We did a lot of praying for the weather,” said Rutherford Habitat of Humanities Executive Director Terri Schultz. “While we do not have final figures yet, we expected around 1,000 people.” 

“There are 1,000 bowls between those pre-painted and ones we had painted by local artists, and then we have black “Cookin’ to Build “bowls with bright colored interiors,” said volunteer Chris Dutton. 

The event is famous for their pre-painted and fired porcelain soup bowls, which are provided every year by Color Me Mine, formerly known as The Pottery Place. Teresa Johnson, the longtime owner of The Pottery Place, has been a supporter of the event since its inception, and Caitlin Davidson, who was Johnson’s manager and who purchased the business from her, continues the tradition. 

Ginny Williams went to paint her bowl with a group of friends in October, as many bowl painters do. There are groups that meet to paint them annually and they have become collector’s items for some people in the community.

“It looks different fired than when I painted it,” said Williams. “I am happy with it. I’ll be taking it home to use for soup this winter.” 

Leftover soup and other leftovers were donated to the Cold Patrol to feed the homeless.

“Everything couldn’t have been more perfect,” said one person in the crowd as the soup purveyors were breaking down for the day.