Dining With Denise Neil

Head of Wichita’s best-known church dinner noodles quitting each year

Cliff Simmons, 84, is the longtime head of the annual Chicken Noodle Dinner at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church.
Cliff Simmons, 84, is the longtime head of the annual Chicken Noodle Dinner at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. The Wichita Eagle

It’s January, the month when comfort food always tastes best.

That’s why it’s so convenient that Wichita’s St. Paul’s United Methodist Church cooks up pots and pots and pots of chicken noodles every January.

The chicken noodle dinner returns to the church at 1356 N. Broadway on Saturday for its 71st installment. The all-you-can-eat meal, which offers homemade chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes and gravy, coleslaw, bread and homemade pie, happens from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dinners are $10 apiece.

The dinner is spearheaded by longtime volunteer Cliff Simmons, 84, who every year since 2014 has told me that it’s definitely, for sure this time his last year as the noodle boss. He made the same proclamation last year.

But of course, he’s back.

“This is probably going to be my last year, honestly,” Simmons said on Monday.

But this time he might be serious. This year, Simmons has a protege who he’s showing the ropes – a younger church member, Robert Scott, who Simmons describes as “more computer savvy.”

The dinner draws around 2,500 people and often raises around $23,000, which is used by the men’s club and women’s guild to supplement the church budget and finance missions. Simmons starts the process in October, negotiating prices with food providers and gathering up the pounds, dozens and gallons of chicken, turkey, eggs, flour, cabbage, Miracle Whip and evaporated milk it takes to put the dinner together. Church volunteers will spend this week cooking and deboning chicken, making gravy and coleslaw and setting up the dining room.

The dinner is all-you-can-eat and is served family style, though to-go containers also are available. Tickets are available at the door or by calling the church at 316-267-3263.

ST. PAUL’S 71ST ANNUAL CHICKEN AND NOODLE DINNER

What: A fundraising dinner featuring chicken and noodles and sides served family style; carryout also available

When: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday

Where: St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 1356 N. Broadway

How much: $10; free for ages 6 and under

Tickets: Available at the door or by calling 316-267-3263.

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