Café Momentum’s Inaugural Pop-Up Dinner at Milestone Culinary Features Chef Jeffery Hobbs and a Cast of Aspiring Chefs

Table settings (left) and prepped shrimp and veggies (right). Photos by Sarah Reiss.

File this one under the heading: good people doing a pretty great thing. Last night, Chefs Chad Houser (you may remember him from his recent adventures in Eating Lebanon) and Janice Provost of Parigi, supported by an armada of well-intentioned chefs, foodies, and community organizers, opened doors on the first pop-up incarnation of Café Momentum, a nonprofit restaurant concept that will serve as a culinary training facility for disadvantaged young men from Dallas County Youth Village (DCYV is a facility dedicated to helping juvenile offenders, ages 10 to 17, reach their law-abiding potential and divert them from further involvement with the juvenile justice system or progression to greater offenses by putting positive outcomes within their reach).

The aspiring chefs will train alongside some of Dallas finest chefs, who will rotate for monthly stints as chef-in-residence. Last night’s inaugural guest chef, Jeffery Hobbs (Celebration, Riviera, Toscana, Hotel St. Germain, Il Sole, and, oh yeah, Suze) presided over a menu that utilized fresh-off-the-farm ingredients. We’re hoping that July’s guest chef, Randall Copeland of Ava, will feature his own awesome biscuits somewhere in the menu.

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“When the young participants graduate from the Momentum program, they will be provided with paid internships working in the Youth Village kitchen,” the program’s organizers note.  The goal? “Eventually they will have the opportunity to work at Café Momentum for one year, in an internship-style environment, alongside a rotating roster of guest chefs from the Dallas area. In addition to seeing the style and technique of each chef, the boys will leave Café Momentum with a list of 12 chefs to use as employment contacts or references.”

It may be a while until the consortium secures the funding to open a permanent cafe (projected date: sometime in the fall), but until then, pop-ups will appear monthly throughout town. Check the cafe’s Facebook page for details on the next one. Last night’s sold out quickly, by world of mouth, so I’d suggest a speedy reservation if you want in on July’s dinner.

Chef Janice Provost, a Parigi chef volunteer, and guest chef Jeffery Hobbs prep the passed hors d'oeuvres.
Panazella (buttermilk biscuit over green tomato, basil, and smoked paprika vinaigrette) and coconut white custard in East Texas blueberry compote with a cinnamon graham tuille.
Grilled tilapia with green cabbage mango slaw, black garbanzo puree, and yucca chips.
Charred flat iron steak with wilted pea tendrils, cosmic carrots, and caper aioli.