Chad Houser | Taking Kids Out of Jail, Teach Them To Play With Knives and Fire

The juvenile justice industry term to describe the population they oversee is throwaway. That term becomes a scarlet letter that these kids wear on their chest. What happens when you give a throwaway opportunity, tools, resources, and hope? They begin to rise to the newfound level of expectation that is set for them. Chad Houser’s Dallas-based Cafe Momentum provides a transformative experience, through a 12-month paid post-release internship program, for young men and women coming out of juvenile detention. Building them up and helping them to succeed can rebuild communities and change generations to come. Houser’s vision is to open more Cafe Momentums across the country than Starbucks—is Jacksonville ready?

After 17 years as an award-winning chef, Chad Houser sold his partnership in Parigi Restaurant to devote his full attention to the role of Executive Director of Café Momentum, a Dallas-based restaurant and culinary training facility he describes as “taking kids out of jail and teaching them to play with knives and fire.” The nonprofit restaurant has been featured on numerous media outlets and was named Eater Dallas’s 2015 “Restaurant of the Year.”

Houser’s passion to teach life, social, and employment skills to Dallas’s most at-risk youth has earned him national recognition, including being named one of Good Magazine’s “Good 100,” individuals at the cutting edge of creative impact across the globe. In the community, Houser has previously served as president of the board of directors for Dallas Farmers Market Friends and as vice chair of the El Centro Exes Association (Houser received his culinary training at El Centro) where he is also a member of the El Centro College Food and Hospitality Institute “Hall of Fame.”