Copperhead Grille. Photo is courtesy of Emily Cummins

With 19 restaurants and 25 soups, the competition was tasty – and fierce – at Souper Bowl VIII, the culinary event held at the ArtsQuest Center’s Musikfest Café in Bethlehem Jan. 28. Copperhead Grille of Allentown took top honors for its delicious Vietnamese Pho with beef, bean sprouts, lime, basil and jalapeno. Co-owner Mike Dontas and his team were named Souper Bowl Champions after capturing the most attendee votes during the annual fundraiser, which raised more than $19,000 for the Arts Education Fund for ArtsQuest, the nonprofit that presents Musikfest, Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem and classes and programs at the Banana Factory arts center and SteelStacks.

Runner-up in the Souper Bowl Champion category was Roosevelt’s 21st of Bethlehem with a Steak and White Cheddar Ale Soup, while both STRUT Catering Company’s Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder and Volpe’s Sports Bar’s Beer Belly Bisque were named second runner-up in a first-ever tie.

The official Souper Bowl Judging panel also handed out several honors at the conclusion of the Souper Bowl. Winners were:

Beat Cream-Based: STRUT Catering Company, Allentown, for its Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder
Best Ethnic: Copperhead Grille – Vietnamese Pho
Best Seafood-Based: Volpe’s Sports Bar, Emmaus – Beer Belly Bisque
Best Meat-Based: Roosevelt’s 21st – Steak and White Cheddar Ale Soup
Best Vegetarian: Shankara Vegan Restaurant, Bethlehem – Nouveau Indian Lentil Vegetable Soup
Most Original: Café the Lodge, Bethlehem – Creamy Pumpkin & Chorizo Soup

“We are extremely fortunate to have so many amazing restaurants in the Lehigh Valley that have volunteered their time and talents to support our Arts Education Fund,” says Julie Benjamin, Vice President of Community Partnerships for ArtsQuest. “Their commitment to our community as both businesses and partners, along with the support of The Restaurant Store, will help our nonprofit organization reach more than 10,000 students this year through our educational experiences and programs.”

Judges for Souper Bowl VIII were Nicholas Coleman of The Restaurant Store, Rosa Duarte from WFMZ-TV 69 News, Bill White from The Morning Call and Jonathan Godshall, an ArtsQuest Member who was named to the judging panel after winning the ArtsQuest Member Souper Bowl Judge Contest.

Proceeds from the event will go to support ArtsQuest’s arts and education programs and experiences for area students. Souper Bowl IX is set for Jan. 27, 2018.