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This week: Soup Sunday and Latte Art Throwdown.



Youth Villages, a private nonprofit which finds mentors to build relationships with children in foster care, is hosting its annual Soup Sunday event January 29th at the FedExForum.

The event is now in its 28th year and has grown to boast 42 presenters from area restaurants and nearly 3,000 attendees.

Danny Sumrall, owner of the Half Shell, teamed up with longtime Youth Villages supporter Mike Warr to come up with the idea of a soup tasting in order to bring the restaurant community of Memphis together and to support a good cause.

"We are happy to be their cause," Youth Villages development coordinator Amanda Mullen says.

Over the years the event has changed venues, setting up at the Pyramid or at Woodland Hills Event Center, and grown to include more than just soup.

It wouldn't be a Soup Sunday without the Half Shell's lobster and shrimp bruschetta. One year there were so many gumbo offerings that event planners held a gumbo competition.

Each year there are also winners of best soup, best bread, best dessert, and best specialty item, as well as a Souper Spirit Award, offered to the restaurant that brings the most energy and spirit to the event.

"Last year, one restaurant had a cornhole game, which really got the patrons involved," Mullen says. "We've had restaurants where the entire booth dressed in gowns and tuxedos. It's really cool when the restaurants get into it and bring the competition with them."

Proceeds from the event go toward Youth Villages' mentoring program. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for ages 6-12 prior to the event. Prices will slightly increase the day of the event, which will run 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information, to donate, or to become a mentor, visit

When I order my occasional almond-milk, double-shot latte (I'm more of a short, double-shot Americano girl, myself), terms such as "free pour," "flow rate," and "a 2-2-1 halo-topped tulip" don't pop into my head.

But when it comes to lattes, those terms do exist, and Memphis is about to get a fun lesson in latte culture.

The first Latte Art Throwdown in Memphis will go down Friday, January 27th at 387 Pantry on South Main.

The idea is to bring the Memphis coffee community together and to put Memphis on the coffee map.

"It's a statement to the coffee world that Memphis is not a stop but a destination," said the event's coordinator Lance Hedrick.

Memphis is in good hands with Hedrick leading the charge.

He's competed in latte art world championships and gave up pursuing a PhD in philosophy in Canterbury to pursue coffee full-time. He will also be head barista in charge when Dr. Bean's opens its doors on Madison later this year.

"It's a friendly competition that brings the coffee community together and brings cohesion between the shops and creates a deeper customer-barista relationship than just across the bar," Hedrick says.

It's $5 to enter, and prizes including $400 for first place, $100 for second, and $50 for third will be awarded to the baristas who come up with the best "Rosetta" or "Tulip."

Though this is Memphis' first Latte Art Throwdown, newbies shouldn't be intimidated. All are welcome, and it's an opportunity to exchange information and skills.

High Cotton will provide two kegs, Monkey Train Grazing Co. food truck will provide the food, and several coffee shops will provide the coffee, including French Truck, Ugly Mug, J. Brooks, and Dr. Bean's.

And yes, the artfully designed lattes will be for consumption at no charge. The event, which is from 6 to 10 p.m. is free to attend.

Latte Art Throwdown at 387 S. Main, Friday, January 27th, 6 to 10 p.m.

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