I would usually put this post in the What “I” Like section because the food is amazing, but this is more than what I like. It’s about an idea that is not only changing the food scene in Dallas, but it is teaching future chefs and others life skills. It is not a culinary school, it’s not your typical classroom, and these are not your typical educators or your typical students.
Cafe Momentum is a non-profit restaurant and professional training facility that is located in downtown Dallas. Cafe Momentum is in the restaurant business, but more importantly it is in the business of transforming the lives of young people who have been inside juvenile facilities. The restaurant, culinary school, life skills university is the brain child of Chef Chad Houser. Working in collaboration with the Dallas County Juvenile Justice Department, Cafe Momentum strives to teach young men and women that it is possible to break the cycle–the cycle of crime, violence and poverty.
The students rotate through a 12 month paid internship program where they do work in every position from dishwasher to server to working along side world class chefs. In addition to culinary skills, they are taught anger management, money management and other life skills. Upon successfully completing the intense program the interns are placed with partners of Cafe Momentum for employment.
The food was scrumptious to the eye and to the palette. Making the night even more enjoyable was the knowledgeably, friendly, professional and courteous staff. We tried and shared several items, but one of my favorites was King Oyster Mushroom Scallops. I love scallops, but I hardly order them because if they are not done correctly they are not very appealing to eat. The mushrooms reminded me of the best scallops that I have ever tasted. They had the same buttery texture–they were wonderful. If I had not been told they were mushrooms, I would have thought I was eating scallops. It is usually hard to fool me when it comes to taste. You know how they say “it taste like” and it doesn’t–this did.
We started with a pickle plate that contained bourbon pickled green tomatoes, sweet cucumbers, hot, very hot jalapenos, Italian cauliflower and more. it was a great taste mixture of sweet, tangy and hot. Everyone at the table seemed to have their favorite. The next item that we shared was the magnificent Charcuteri Plate–it was magnificent. It featured torchon, duck ham, homemade sausage, two types of goat cheese which they lovingly called Lucy and Ethel, and so much more. To see more about this amazing plate (video) go to our Facebook Page–thisisyourbestyear.
Another amazing dish that everyone wanted to have a bite of was Ninny’s (fried) Okra Salad. I am one person who likes okra almost anyway it can be prepared, and this dish was one of the best ways that I have eaten it.
At this point I was a bit full so I order the Ninny Okra Salad for my entree, and nibbled off of everyone’s plate. Someone ordered the Smoked Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes, collard greens, biscuits and gravy. I tasted it–OMG. The Pork Chop with brown butter, green tomato salad and a 4 bean salad was ordered by a couple of people. I didn’t taste this one, but there wasn’t much left on their plates so I think that makes the point.
The fish of the day was an Opah, yes Opah, not Oprah. Having never heard of it, I was interested in it, but too scared to order. This Opah fish was tasty, not a fishing fish, but a flaky light fish.
At the conclusion we ordered the Olive Oil Cake and the Chai Ice Cream with a chocolate brownie. Everyone at the table got a bite of the Olive Oil Cake while one person hoarded the Chai Ice Cream and chocolate brownie.
Dining at Cafe Momentum is not only an amazing culinary experience, but it is chance to give back to the community of Dallas and beyond. Take some time to learn more about Cafe Momentum and see how you can assist this great endeavor.
Remember “thisisyourbestyear”. Eat, drink, be merry and assist a worthy cause.