Café Momentum is a nonprofit restaurant concept conceived by Parigi co-owners Chad Houser and Janice Provost that will serve as a culinary training facility for the disadvantaged. Our primary focus is the Dallas County Youth Village, a juvenile residential detention facility for nonviolent adjudicated boys ages 13-17.
With the help of Youth Village Resources of Dallas and the North Texas Food Bank, a program has been created within the Dallas County Youth Village, where the young men learn basic culinary skills. Upon completion of the program, the students can graduate to paid positions at Café Momentum's pop-up dinners, and, eventually, the restaurant.
At Café Momentum, the young men will learn all aspects of the restaurant business, from washing dishes to waiting tables. They will also work alongside a rotating roster of guest chefs from the Dallas area. The chef will train the boys to prep, cook, plate, and serve their dishes-some of which will incorporate food grown on a half-acre at the Youth Village using organic growing power techniques. In addition to seeing the style and technique of each chef, the young men will leave Café Momentum with a list of 12 chefs to use as employment contacts or references.
To create immediate opportunities for these teens to work with real chefs, and to raise awareness and money for the restaurant, Houser and Provost launched a monthly pop-up dinner series featuring the culinary stylings of Dallas' best chefs. The first dinner was held June 5, 2011, at the Milestone Culinary Arts Center, with Jeffery Hobbs of Suze. The chef and venue change monthly.
Café Momentum is set up as a social enterprise program of Youth Village Resources of Dallas. Similar successful concepts around the globe are Fifteen in London, Amsterdam, Cornwall and Melbourne, run by the Jamie Oliver Foundation; Café Reconcile in the severely distressed Central City neighborhood of New Orleans; and FareStart in Seattle.