• Dallas News: Cafe Momentum Founder Turns To Dallas Downtown Tunnels To Expand Program


    Founder Chad Houser to expand program by using underground tunnels as a Community Services Center

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    Despite their enthusiasm, Houser knew the deck was stacked against the kids. When one of the young men won a cooking competition and expressed a desire to work in a restaurant, Houser knew the chances were slim he could get a job. Says Houser, “I drove home realizing that the odds were against him. He was going to go back to the same school, house, gangs, everything. The system is rigged. I just thought that it’s not fair for him—his life to date is based on a bunch of choices that were made for him before he was ever born.” Houser’s core realization might have that while all men may be created equal, there isn’t equal opportunity, and it drove him to action.  “Somebody has to do something. I wanted something that created an intrinsic feeling of good” says Houser.



    “Most kids come from parts of town that are federally recognized food deserts, which means they don’t have access to grocery stores. These kids literally think that raspberry is a flavor of candy. They’ve never tasted it fresh,” Houser says. “And if raspberry was foreign, imagine having them smell fresh tarragon. It’s absolutely mind-blowing.”

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    Downtown restaurant by chef Chad Houser is a unique fine-dining experience, and they change their menu with the seasons. But it’s the buzz right now because just got a big voucher from Starbucks, which spotlights the restaurant in one of of 11 films in its original content series “Upstanders – Season 2.” The film applauds Café Momentum for giving once-troubled youth an opportunity to learn how to cook, serve, and get a well-paying job in the food-service industry.

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    The center has been a few years coming. In 2015, Houser asked a team of graduate students at Southern Methodist University’s Master of Arts in Design and Innovation program to help develop a stable housing situation for the interns — about two-thirds of whom are homeless.

  • CNN Heroes: Out of juvenile detention, they’re serving meals instead of time


    “I remember consciously thinking that the system is rigged based on choices that were made for him, not by him — the color of his skin; the part of town that he was born into; the schools that he had access to,” Houser said. “I thought, ‘If you’re not willing to do something yourself, then you’re being a hypocrite. … And that was it for me.”

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    Above all, Café Momentum’s goal is to set teens up for lifelong success. The restaurant employs at-risk youth who have spent time in juvenile-detention centers, putting each through a 12-month internship where they learn life skills, social skills, and how to be a leader in their community. The interns also rotate through every aspect of running a restaurant, from washing dishes to waiting tables to working alongside the cafe’s professional chefs.

  • Zagat: 24 Must-Try Comfort Foods in Dallas-Fort Worth


    At Chad Houser’s nonprofit Downtown restaurant that helps at-risk youths turn their lives around with culinary training, chef de cuisine Sarah Green had comfort food on the brain when creating this dish. Short ribs are slow-braised and the braising liquid is used to make the sauce before folding in sautéed mirepoix consisting of carrots, onion and celery with cremini mushrooms and diced potato. It’s topped with a light and flaky pastry circle and a lightly dressed salad of Paul Quinn arugula and pickled fennel.

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    After finding huge success in pop-up fundraising dinners, chef Chad Houser finally opened the much-anticipated brick-and-mortar location of his revolutionary charitable venture early this year. Café Momentum is the nonprofit Downtown restaurant that works as a training ground for juvenile offenders via paid internships where they learn both life skills and an intensive education in all areas of restaurant operation from waiting tables to cooking. And speaking of food, the menu is filled with impressive, expertly executed dishes such as octopus tiradito (pictured above), smoked fried chicken and short-rib pot pie (pictured at top), not the cuisine you might expect from teens in the kitchen. There is so much joy and hope on the faces of these young men as they buzz around, you’re sure to get an overwhelming sense that you’re part of something much greater than a fantastic meal. And you are.

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    Cafe Momentum got a big voucher from Starbucks, which spotlights chef Chad Houser in one of 11 films in its original content series “Upstanders – Season 2.” The film focuses on Café Momentum as perhaps “the only fine-dining restaurant in the country to focus on giving once-troubled youth an opportunity to learn how to cook, serve, and get a well-paying job in the food-service industry.” All films in the Upstanders series are available in video or audiobook through Amazon Video Direct, Audible, and on Starbucks.com/Upstanders.