The Billy Bowl: You can get this vegetarian offering at Oodles of Noodles this weekend. | Photo courtesy of Hillbilly Tea

Point to nearly any charity, and you’ll find one of its largest contributing demographics is hospitality industry employees. Apparently, when you have a heart for serving customers, helping the needy is second nature.

Now the tables are turned thanks to forest fires that devastated tourist areas in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in East Tennessee in November. Many of the staffs who feed, serve and clean up after the park’s millions of tourists each year are out of work because their workplace is now a pile of ashes.

When Dan Thomas learned musician Dolly Parton’s Dollywood Foundation would donate $1,000 to month for six months to families displaced by the blaze, the longtime chef turned food broker saw a cause he could support. Calling on chef friends Lawrence Weeks and Keith Jones of Hillbilly Tea, and Jordan Delewis of Against the Grain, the trio cobbled together a fundraiser to help out.

Lawrence Weeks, executive chef, Hillbilly Tea. | Photo by Steve Coomes
Lawrence Weeks, executive chef, Hillbilly Tea. | Photo by Steve Coomes

Dubbed Oodles of Noodles, the event will be held at Hillbilly Tea (106 W. Main St.) on Sunday the 11th, from 7-10 p.m. According to Weeks, $10 from every entrée purchased will be donated to the cause, plus a special donation basket will be available for those who’d like to contribute more.

“Jordan and I have been talking about doing a noodle event of some kind for about a year-and-a-half, so this sounded like a good time to do it,” Weeks said. After announcing the fundraiser on Facebook, Weeks thought maybe 50-100 guests would come. “Now it’s looking like 200 to 300 might be there.”

The limited menu (see below) features multiple Asian dishes ranging from noodle bowls to salad and dessert. The bar will be open for those seeking adult beverages.

Weeks said a crew has already been assembled to manage the food and service, but that if anyone else wanted to pitch in and help, “a clean-up crew is always appreciated.”

Wanna go? It’s a no-reservation event, so prepare to wait a spell—at the bar, of course, where you can have a cocktail and help fill the donation basket. Check out the menu below:

  • Smoked Short Rib Ramen: creamy miso tonkotsu broth, seasoned tea egg, bean sprouts, enoki mushroom and marinated shiitake and scallions ($13)
  • Ginger Salad: iceberg lettuce, pickled carrot, hakurei turnip, ginger-miso vinaigrette and benne seed ($3)
  • Okonomiyaki: cabbage pancake, kewpie mayo, tonkatsu sauce and katsuobushi ($8)
  • Tempura-fried Frog Legs: nori aioli, scallion and togarashi ($8)
  • Billy Bowl: roasted mushroom broth, Good Earth Tea miso glazed hakurei turnip, seasoned tea egg, bean sprouts, grilled mushroom and benne seed ($13)
  • Chicken & Dumplings: tandoori chicken and dumplings, cardamom, caraway, rajili, mint chutney and pappadum crackers ($13)
  • Liver Onions: breaded chicken liver, smoked pork belly, caramelized onion, balsamic glaze and demi glaze and scallions ($10)
  • Dessert, Coconut Soup (custard-like): tapioca pearls, purple yams and fried donut (free)

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