Town Crier: At Oakland hills couple’s soup party, warm up to a bowl

MONTCLARION: November 7, 2013

In Seinfeld’s classic “Soup Nazi” episode, the chef barks out “No soup for you!” Well, that isn’t the case at the Kinstle house. An abundance of broth will abound at the hills couple’s annual soup party Dec. 7. Since 2003, Maggie and John have opened their home to friends and newcomers, alike, for a night of soups, appetizers and desserts.

They don’t just break bread, they dip it in an array of chowders and stews that would make even the Soup Nazi salivate.

“At times we’ve had as many as 12 crockpots,” says Maggie, who labels each soup with the name of the cook. After dinner, the guests (as many as 125 of them) vote for their favorite. Maggie’s bean soup has won every year with the exception of the time that Bill Hall took first place with his Thai Chicken.

The question is why? Why does this couple open their doors to soup lovers they don’t even know?

“My dad was an Episcopal minister,” says Maggie, “and my mother was a social worker — so I came from a VERY social family.”

Their motto hearkens back to a time when whole families would get together to share stories and a little supper.

“The more the merrier,” says Maggie, as she lays out her recipes for yet another season of entertaining. I can already taste her spicy black bean soup with homemade croutons.

Email bag: In the wake of my column on heavy peak traffic outside Montclair Elementary School, here’s another hazard to report — car doors that open as vehicles try to pass. Several readers have mentioned how dangerous it is to have motorists unload young passengers from the street side of the car. It’s better for the car door — and the precious cargo inside — to unload on the right side of the vehicle.

On stage: Thunderous applause rocked the Berkeley Rep on opening night of The Pianist of Willesden Lane. This one-women play has it all. Mona Golabek is a master storyteller, weaving the tale of a young Jewish protégé who escaped Vienna to study piano in London in the Nazis’ early reign of terror. What makes the performance extraordinary is that Golabek plays all the characters and scores her story with a masterful performance on a Steinway concert grand piano. This is a must-see performance on the Thrust Stage through Dec. 8. See

Local innovator: A Berkeley-based company is helping save lives in Sudan’s Darfur region. Potential Energy has partnered with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to develop flat-packed stoves for refugee camps. It’s one less thing for a refugee family to worry about, especially since the stoves most refugees use emit toxic smoke that leads to asthma and other chronic diseases.

On film: The other side of the tunnel takes center stage this weekend with the annual California Independent Film Festival. The classic Rheem and Orinda Theatres are showing more than 50 indy films including “Le Week-End,” the lighthearted story of an older couple who travels to Paris to remember their honeymoon. See the full list of films at


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