Cafe Momentum Gains Momentum

Janice and Chad discussing farm to table issues

by Crave Staff

Parigi co-owners Janice Provost and Chad Houser have announced a new nonprofit restaurant concept called Café Momentum, which will serve as a culinary training facility for disadvantaged youth. To create opportunities for these teens to work with real chefs, and to raise awareness and money for the restaurant, Provost and Houser have launched a monthly pop-up dinner series starring guest chefs from the Dallas area. The first event is June 5, 2011, at Milestone Culinary Arts Center, featuring the talents of Jeffery Hobbs, chef-partner at Suze Restaurant.  

Café Momentum’s primary focus is the Dallas County Youth Village, a juvenile residential facility for nonviolent adjudicated young men ages 13-17. With the help of Youth Village Resources of Dallas and the North Texas Food Bank, a culinary program was created within the facility, where students currently learn basic culinary skills. When the young men graduate from this program, they will be provided with paid internships working in the Youth Village kitchen. Eventually they will have the opportunity to work at Café Momentum restaurant for one year, in an internship-style environment.

Old photo depicting what Chad looks like sans beard

Café Momentum is set up as a social enterprise program of YVRD. Similar successful concepts around the globe include Fifteen (www.fifteen.net), run by the Jamie Oliver Foundation; Café Reconcile (www.reconcileneworleans.org), in New Orleans; and FareStart (www.farestart.org/), in Seattle.

“Our culinary arts and nutrition program partnership with North Texas Food Bank started in early 2008,” says Jerry Silhan, executive director of Youth Village Resources of Dallas. “The young men learn a lot about nutrition and get some real core culinary skills. Because of this certification and experience, they have been able to get employment after release, which has helped reduce the recidivism rate dramatically. Café Momentum will offer additional work experience and culinary skill development to the young men who are most interested in the food industry as a career.”

“Café Momentum is a true passion for me,” says Houser. “Cities like Seattle, Washington, and New Orleans already have social enterprise culinary endeavors. It’s very exciting to think that Café Momentum will put the Dallas restaurant community on the map and at the forefront of social enterprise.”

At the first pop-up dinner, Hobbs will create a five-course meal, which the students will help prep, plate, and serve. Cost is $50 per person, and diners can bring their own wine. Only a few seats remain!

To make reservations, visit www.cafemomentum.org.

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