In this episode, we go deep into an exploration of how a successful Executive Chef, with over 17 years in the food industry and who had achieved his own dream of owning a 5 Star restaurant, had an awakening while working with some kids in a local juvenile justice center teaching them how to make ice cream. How those kids, in their honesty and vulnerability connected with him (and one of them won a taste-testing contest with their ice cream!) and inspired him to eventually sell his restaurant and create what is now Café Momentum. Café Momentum’s mission is “to transform young lives by equipping our community’s most at-risk youth with life skills, education and employment opportunities to help them achieve their full potential.” (https://cafemomentum.org/our-work/).
“There is no silver bullet that can course-correct decades of disinvestment, neglect, and marginalization. But, we can at least attempt to create a new system of support for our kids coming out of the justice system. We can create a place for them to land.” – Café Momentum Founder, Chad Houser. Meet Chad Houser, Founder and Executive Chef of Café Momentum, who was often told when starting Café Momentum, that it was tantamount to “taking kids out of jail and teaching them to play with knives and fire.” Despite the resistance he faced when starting the program, Chad persevered and now has one of the most successful and impactful youth programs in America. Their main location is Dallas Texas, with new programs being started in Pittsburg and Nashville. And that is where we get into the story. As many of you know, George’s offseasons in Nashville. In 2021 we got hooked up with the folks over at the Players Coalition, a social justice group made up of current and former NFL players working to “end social injustices and racial inequality so future generations have the opportunity to thrive without barriers.” Their key pillars include education, community relations, criminal justice, and economic justice. https://players-coalition.org/key-pil…. But long story short, they (thank you Dr. Chelsea Heyward!!) hooked us up with the Café Momentum program, which at the time was just expanding to Nashville.
In 2022 we continued that connection. After TEU in June 2022, we followed up with them through the Nashville program’s Executive Director Rokeisha Bryant, and George and Claire were able to support the Nashville program’s development with a $15,000 gift. With that, we knew we wanted to do a full podcast and here it is. This podcast includes a great conversation with Chad on all things Café Momentum as well as food, youth justice issues, mindset, and giving back to the community. We also have some time with Rokeisha, as she explains her work and the development of the Nashville program. Please enjoy the show as much as we did in recording it.