Twenty high school age boys are gathered together in the Fleeger Family Kitchen at Parish Episcopal School, with former Parish parent and Café Momentum Executive Chef Chad Houser leading the group through dinner preparations with a dash of real life lessons.
Half of these boys are students at Parish, the other half students in the culinary kitchen of Chef Houser’s Café Momentum, a Dallas-based restaurant created to transform the lives of at-risk youth who have spent time in juvenile facilities.
Together with Parish’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Tyneeta Canonge, Chef Houser and the boys are getting to know each other over dinner and sharing life experiences and future plans. In just a short time together, bonds were forged which helped build bridges between young people with fairly divergent personal stories.
“The team from Café Momentum that night truly inspired me,” said Talha Wahid, Parish Senior. “They made me open my eyes a little bit bigger. They taught me that whatever problem I might be going through will pass and that if I keep on working hard I will succeed.”
The partnership with Parish is an evident fit. After careful planning and idea sharing, Parish and Café Momentum came together and began considering concepts involving the Fleeger Kitchen in the Beasley STEM Center at Hillcrest. After already cooking with young Parish students in the Lower School, Chef Houser helped lead this latest event to involve our older students in diversity work.
The leadership team at Parish is excited about the emerging partnership, and is looking forward to welcoming Chef Houser back to campus. Through ongoing work, they are developing other ways the School and its students can partner with Chef Houser and Café Momentum.
Chef Houser was the Executive Chef of Parigi Restaurant in Dallas for 16 years before deciding to devote his full attention to Café Momentum as Executive Director. Recently he was named one of the 2015 Ten Outstanding Young Americans, awarded by the United States Junior Chamber and includes past recipients such as Bill Clinton, Elvis Presley and Wayne Newton.
The Junior Chamber names only 10 men and women between 18 and 40 who best exemplify the highest attributes of the nation's emerging generation. Through an intense judging process, the group votes on the 10 individuals they feel are truly accomplished in their fields, in giving back to their communities and in promoting that service to humanity is the best work of life.
Parish is excited to have Chef Houser on its team of community outreach. Through this partnership with Parish, Houser is excited to share his program with the Dallas community and increase awareness and involvement with this project.
For more information on Café Momentum, visit www.cafemomentum.org.