« The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe

301: Give the Children Knives and Fire

2023-02-21 | 🔗
Award-winning chef and bloody-do-gooder, Chad Houser explains why he gave up his successful restaurant to start Café Momentum, a nonprofit, fine dining restaurant that strives to break our country’s cycle of incarceration and violence by employing justice-involved youths.
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Well. You found it episode for three hundred, and one of the way I heard its entitled gives the child and knives and fire and other direct quote chalk from another fantastic guest, chad, hauser runs off, foundation. Cafe momentum, it's a founder! and it's also a restaurant. That's an award behind a restaurant. One of the best. strong in Dallas and he's one of the hop chefs in dallas. So here's the deal. I met this guy what seven months ago, at a stand together event, stand together. If you haven't heard, is an organisation that supports my foundation, micro works and lots, and lots and lots of other organisations that try and work in bottom up solutions- this is a really good one. Chad uses food mean he's not word winning chef. He had the number one restaurant in Dallas any basically wakes,
one morning and says: look I want to run If we're going restaurant, I want to hire you and I ll delinquents. I want to high her kids who are basically in the justice system code for in jail, basically starts going into these detention halls and cooking with them, and then he starts doing these papa. dinners with them. And then he eventually takes a giant breath and opens up. This whole new restaurant and starts high bring them and then and now he literally is on track to do this. A like thirty different cities he's got serious financial backing he's got an amazing track record. I mean I don't know chuck people understand the totality of the hot mess that our criminal justice system is, but in particular
on the juvenile and weird putting around workable, number, kids and whose who's you gotta do so and about the utes, you know the yes need our attention add is taken that to heart, and you know he treated with dignity, self respect and gives them a purpose, and the girl, the thing about this too. It's not about like oh well, we're going to take these wayward youth and we're going to make them into great restaurant tours. No he's trying to make great people and he's got some success stories of where they ve gone on. To do great things and other ventures he's using the restaurant itself as a kind of proving ground. You know All the different jobs in the restaurant turn out to be pretty great opportunities to build some semblance of work ethic and get some skin in the game. Anyway, the results speak selves and he'll talk at length about how the new was being moved. I just started with somebody that you should know because, unlike lot of other bloody do gooders.
out there he's doing it. It's happening on like a giant scale and not of a labour. The point, but seven hundred thousand kids we're going through the juvenile justice system in this country every year. Ninety five percent of them back in two thousand eight anyhow, and I'm I'm sure, it's more or less same today were arrested for nonviolent crimes. So it's just a ton of kids. Were being trained to adapt to being an carson, the recidivism rates are awful. somebody somewhere has to do something. I'm sorry, but the governments not gonna, do it. It's gonna, take organizations like stand together. Funding foundations like chat, and if it sounds like I'm channeling, my old returning the favoured days. Well, I mean, is this I would have been on that show We hardly yap. So look
good conversation, its thoughtful. You know there is a call to act at the end, no pressure, but cafe momentum, dot, org is doing great work and you know if you feel inclined to help out after you. Listen to us do so also is worth saying just on a personal level that I know this is difficult for a lot of people to hear you know because we are inundated today with he owes you can't put on the news without seeing some kid, some punk hitting some old woman over their head or pushing somebody in front of the subway or You're running a monk with a guy of other utes. into a walgreen's or receive yes, including the mountain people, are frustrated. People are angry. You know we don't talk a lot about that in this conversation, but I get it and I think, you know you- and I were arguing about this earlier- good naturedly as we always do. But it's ok
ecology. Two things can be true at the same time. There's some bad kids out there who have done some bad thing. And there are a lot of other kids in terrible circumstances who have gone down a bad road and we just simply have to come to terms with the fact that, if we're going to release them if we're not going to send them all to convict island and let him sorted out like lord of the flies, then we have to do something to help change the road there on anyway ran over chad, hauser he's doing a thing What are you doing in part is he's giving these kids knives and fire yes and and he's not simply hoping for the best he's making a bit outcome and he's doing it in a way that is worthy of your attention is episode number three one give that children knives and fire right after this.
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when he grabbed the band, keep your friends and family feared. My patriots apply dotcom, slash mike Well, let the record show that I arrived in the room. One minute before eleven and lead, records show that shock because Chad here, has made it clear in his materials that one minute late in if a momentum counts as an absence, so we're about to talk with a gentleman who is not afraid to exact consequences. Visa punctuality. How are you chad, hauser great, our you MIKE honestly? I'm awesome we're day to day nowadays, all days are pretty good someday is slightly better than average yesterday, if I'm, in candid, was a bit of a disappointment
started a lot of things that I didn't finish and that always leaves me feeling restive, but today so far, even normally. Halfway through the weather's beautiful, the coffee's hot chuck is come in and around the sea plus be minus, which is awesome, high cotton right there, I was a minute early and we seem to be in a situation where the technology is our friend it's to see you again was it like seven months ago, maybe in colorado that I saw you yeah July. They every enjoy switch linux yeah. where's the time go. I wish I knew the answer to that forward. ways forward You are clearly not watching enough star trek brother, how days. Do you wake up in your car capacity is a bloody do, gooder, a restaurant or a man making a difference in multiple cities and changing lives on a daily basis? How many days to awaken we're
genuinely unsure of what day it is due, only days that end and why those days under the point where now I have to wake up and think what city am I in they all run together pretty quickly? Isn't it crazy when you get? focused on a thing that actually matters to you, and you say yes to a bunch of stuff how time just bends and days once more into the next year sky to wake up and said Where do you want me followed by? Where am I and then you do? You think I think, give I've learned one thing over the past several years. As you know the popular phrase. There aren't enough hours in the day and my responses isn't that a good problem to have you no incredibly grateful that those are what days seem like to me overwhelmed, but grateful
well, it's true. Men are not enough minutes. In an hour there. Now days and weakness of weeks in a month and so forth and so on, because once you get focused on a thing, your time is up longer own, so tell us about cafe momentum. There a lot of people listening who aren't? actually sure what you're doing and why you're doing it and from what I saw when I met you and talking to the kids that I met, in in colorado, you're actually moving the needle and assets the chuck earlier that that's why we wanted you on because look I'd say this is politely as I can. There are a lot of work intended bloody, do gooders out there in the world who build little state. Choose to themselves, and they do nice things, but they don't stick with it. They don't get the ball through the hoop and you're doing it. Man you're absolute doing it so start started to beginning and make people give a damn. Well
Cafe momentum, where the original capital met him at this point is a restaurant that I opened in Dallas eight years ago on january, twenty ninth, two thousand and fifteen for the last eight years to date, it is still continues to be ranked as one of the top restaurants in the city, and we take a lot of pride in that because it's a statement that we in the restaurant make to the city and it's a statement that we make to our staff that they can and will rise to, whatever level of expectation has set for them as long as we're providing them with the tools, resources and opportunities to do so. And that's because the restaurant is entirely staffed by fifteen to nineteen year old justice involved youth, so more than just a restaurant, where a program that affords young people that are tied up in the justice system, the opportunity to participate in a twelve month correct,
from that provides workforce, development and income provides twenty four seven case. Management provides mental health services and education, so the restaurant you were running prior to cafe. Momentum was was well I mean it wasn't involved in this kind of endeavour. At all, was it not at all my kind of anecdotal story dating back to trying to figure out what I was gonna do with my life was you know going to court? for school and going to culinary school, wasn't even my option. One my option. One was that I was going to be an english literature major and my father, who was horrified at the prospect of me, sleeping on my parents' couch for the rest of my life, encouraged me in had to follow my colony dreams and go to culinary school and in corners
I had one goal and that was to own a restaurant and be the chef and in two thousand and seven I did it. I sold my house, took all the equity out of it to get a loan and bought into a restaurant in the uptown area of Dallas called perigee and was chef and co owner of the restaurant? You know again all good things, starting that sentence over it was to that in seven, so mortgaged everything that I had all my life's everything into the incredibly stable. restaurants when the economy tanked. Ok, while Since you brought up your dad, I want to know- how he reacted too, that incredibly mercenary capitalistic decision of yours and your wife right, she's got some skin this game to yeah I was actually singled out at the time of a preteen daughter and my dad,
was, I think, just think for that I was You know in a trade that I would always have a job, and even if I was forever in debt, I would at least have a job and in work my way. Out of it? I was mortified, though, because I thought you know their economy tanks and I thought, oh, I just it's my daughter's future like dad is not going to be so wedding. Her collegiate endeavours, probably won't even The old of irish use next couple of months, but much to my amazement, ingratitude my first year of corner shop. I helped grow the business by almost forty percent. by the recession and was nominated locally and Alice as best up and coming chef, which is kind of What were you transition from thinking, you're a risk taking fool to risk taking genius, yet you did it the right is exactly right. I felt a little. Like king midas, the colony world. You know I could just start touching more rest
and turning them into gold. So Why, then, did you change courses as drama quickly, as you did and I'm sorry to ask you two part, someone unrelated question, but go back for you second and tom, a colony school, because you just talk about learning a trade, and I could not agree more what you do is an absolute trade, but I think a lot of people are confused by it like what do you
study at culinary school, how much book work? Is there vs hands on and so forth? And it was both and that's why I really appreciated it. When you're going into school and taking the classes, the instructors are constantly encouraging you to get a job in a restaurant or a hotel, something in the food service, industry and they're right, because what you're learning in class and a book you're applying to your work every night when you go to work and what you're learning at work observing at work, then you're going back and reinforcing it in textbook and lecture, and it was it's a really. I guess, for lack of better terms, holistic approach to really kind of engraving and understanding. You know they teach you
in the culinary school, there's three things to think about when you're opening a restaurant, the first one is location, the second one is location and the third one is location, and you begin to see as you're networking with friends and seeing restaurants that succeed. Restaurants that fail you're are starting to apply those things. Where are they located? Also just understanding? How do restaurants succeed? I think we have this misnomer. What if it's a great chef and it's great food, it's automatically going to be successful, but if it's run by a really crappy business person, it'll die in three months. I mean instantly because a restaurant businesses- cash flow business and you have to understand that so deftly not the things. I thought I was going to learn when I you know when in the class thinking. Ok, I'm here to learn the five mother sauces, then we went to the equipment class and I received a three hour lecture on light bulbs, realize restaurants was a much different game, and I I thought it was
Maybe you know my first day class. Well, then another side bar, but I've. I've just come more and more interested in your world, and I think it's worth belaboring the point for a minute, because people have to understand the difficulty. just in running a successful restaurant, but just keeping the lights on in the corner, eatery a body on the podcast a couple weeks ago, denmark, mercury, whose develop some software that I think, could be a game changer. But when I talked to him, and you know as a business person and he says, look the average rest. On tour. Has Eighteen days of working capital in the back eighteen days right, so the things that you are subject to in terms of obstacles and impediments, things that can happen. Never minded to your lockdown, my god. That's that's armageddon, that's meteor coming, but but so many little things can trip up and otherwise prudent savvy business per,
and who might very well thrive and any other industry. But the restaurant industry is just a son of a bitch, it's hard, and it's it's hard under the best of circumstances. You do everything right and it's still hard. So There's one people to understand that what you did your industry, after achieving a measure of success, is always the polite word crazy a ten, it's crazy, I mean so riff within, however you'd like well. It is- and I always said that I think if everyone in this country were required to work in a restaurant for a year, this country would function very, very differently very, very differently. We would be more efficient
we would be more prepared. We would be kinder more polite, yes, hitting a man, no kidding empathetic. I laugh the other last fall summer. that show the bare came out and it was all the buzz and the rest on industry and our vice talking about it and people kept pointing to all these new wants things that take place on that show or props that they use they're. Like oh see, that's how I know that it was a real restaurant and they have real restaurant people working in like the fact that they're using deli cups to drink out all that stuff- and I was like You guys are all missing the point. The railway, You know that is telling you the truth. about restaurants is a toilet literally, explodes forty five minutes before service and without and you know, like ok: who's got cleaning crap. Off the floor on their prep list. Put it on there's somebody who knows how to fix a t pipe who well- and you just like, incorporated
and you still open first service, because too Your point, if you don't open, you dont make money and if you don't make money you dont survive. I mean period, you don't you know if you run a law firm and a toilet, explodes you closed office for a day, you delete your cases. You don't you still get paid, from home, yet you still get paid. But if you close your doors you don't get paid. Simple is very simple. yeah. Well, I've always said can learn a lot from doing your time on a factory floor or construction site, but you're right there's, no more self contained crucible! then, the various jobs that you'll find inside a successful restaurant, so you know, There is washing dishes were being a good hostess or being a good, the maitre d or being just a decent way or waitress, all of them required
a different set of skill was in a slightly different temperament and I think, maybe that's Why cafe momentum and run industry to my support I was so perfectly position to act as this mechanism, where you can take a kid and wouldn't through a kind of societal, slash, culinary bootcamp and maybe get something better out. The other end we always talk about. there's three things that the young people are learning in working in the restaurant and part of the internship is they're required to work in every station in the restaurant, so they're required to be a dishwasher and a prep cook and a line cook in a bus or in server and host or hostess and the three things that they're getting out of that is number one, is as you're learning new life skills and social skills and practicing them you're able to practice them. You know to your point in very different,
environments or, as I like to say, the way that you appropriately does I agree with my fellow line cook: what you're trying to get food out for fifteen tables at one time is different than the way in which you appropriately disagree customer? That sat down ten minutes ago ordered three minutes ago and is already complaining that they waited forty five minutes for their food, to be able to understand the new ones and be able to shift and move based on environment who you're interacting with will be the difference and how far you can carry yourself. I've and then the other thing that our young people are learning is in use, in a restaurant, all the time is what we're dealing with a population of young people that, by and large, have been focused on survival for the first fifteen. Sixteen seventeen years of their life which means that their to survive. You leverage whatever strengths. You have a right to see another day, but they end up getting punished for their strengths right. They are going to detention because our using that strength to get by they get punished.
so they see that as a detriment, but when you're in the restaurant you're beginning to see the strengths and you're beginning to see how you can use those drinks you're being a take pride in their strengths and how they can show up to help you get to where you want to be. Another great example, is you're gonna find out get very anecdotal, but these young people there, you know just derek incredible and we and especially on a saturday night and told the entire team, whoever it sells the most specials, gets to order a free entree at the end of the night, and there was a young man that sold us out of every single special. We had the first forty five minutes, we were open and he wasn't in the waiter, he was a buzzer, but he knew first point of contact because I pour the water. So he deployed a sales pitch and said you know just let the server Oh that DJ told you to order the special and forty five minutes later here. stake my favorite That story has loved it. I literally told that story to a group of attorneys at the dallas bar association and the whole room lit up and like all at once in chorus they're like he could be a lawyer, Yeah I love it because that sit right. This is
skill at he's, honing in a restaurant but its applicable across the spectrum of life, so True chucks heard me say two thousand times all jobs or sales jobs. Every single job we're all here right. Some of the shortcomings that absolute especially I mean what is a second opinion, because the second, the effort to close, right outside all jobs, yourselves jobs, and so look on. abed interviewer and I'm getting ahead of myself a little bit. Take me back to dallas you ve. survived the crucible of opening a restaurant staffing. Restaurant and becoming the toast of the town you're crushing it the restaurant, whose name I can recall it started with a p, though preachy. The italian word for paris. Yes, parade very are when you can't go to paris, france, yoda pairs taxes, and nobody knows
Do do do do do do do do do do do never tell you about the time I won an emmy award. It was during the I doubt- and I was walking my Freddie when I got a call from the executive producer of returning the favour, who was very excited holy cow. be said you one, I was literally picking up dog crap when I took this call, and I wasn't sure when he was talking about, but he replied, himself with great enthusiasm you just one in every four best host in a reality programme, I never cared too much about trophies and awards shows, but I got to admit I was flattered to be recognized and happy for everybody on returning the favor and then two weeks later, facebook cancelled the show, but that's another story. point is it's award season once again and this year, I'd like to nominate zip recruiter for an Emmi or an oscar. You're a grammy or tony or whatever it is. They give to companies that actually make hiring
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a brie he grew is the smartest way to do the smartest way to the fire and so what happens to make you oh. I know I'll open restaurant with kids. Who of spend time in jail, juvenile detention and so forth. Why
Well, it was literally right around the one year mark of co ownership. I was on a board of a very incredibly small nonprofit called dallas farmers market friends and we were hosting an ice cream competition at the market. We had reached out to local colleges with culinary programmes to how There are students participate and there was a gentleman that was on the board that worked inside one of the dallas county, juvenile detention facilities, putting together some programs, and he just kind of said well. Could I bring eight young men from to? jane to compete against these college. Coronary students- and you know, everybody board was like that's like philanthropy square. like yes, where do we sign up in his exact words, were great. I just need to find somebody. Teach them how to make ice cream in IRAN. The word was like he'll. Do it and pointed at me and Some would say I was volunteered. Some would say I was born told, but I
myself in may of two thousand and eight teaching eight young men and juveniles And how to make ice cream and for me at the moment that I first met those eight young men. I felt tremendous shame because the moment I met them I realise that I had stereotyped them before I remember when I was wrong. I thought I was a better human being, but when Confronted with the reality quite literally face to face. I was wrong, over the next three and a half hours. I taught eight young men to make ice cream, but eight young men taught me exact who they were, how they were and why they were two days later, their bus down to the farmers market. They are competing against these college. Culinary students- and you know mind you that these culinary students are in their salt and pepper, checkered, chef, pants and their chef coats and some of them
had those stupid tall hats. What is tat man what is made? I have no earthly idea. I mean it's. A health department requirement that you have like some type of head covering her hair pulled back or whatever you have long here, but members know how hard I says we gotta go at the cat in a hat right I mean it's, not doktor us, it's gonna be eight ten and chat. by comparison. These eight young men were in jail, issued, cocky, pants and white tee shirts, you know really use a aloof, definition of the word shoes like these slides counterfeit plot things that they had a man, and yet there was no one more proud in the room than those young men. So we know one these kids are still in juvy at their storage course rated at this point. They were bus down from the detention facility to the farmers market yeah so and they were so
proud, though, and I can't even begin to tell you that beaming pray excited and at the end of the common vision, one of em when the whole thing he bit out the college students here, so excited he's jumpy. In my face and screaming at the top of his long, sir. I just love to cook and I just jump right back in his face and screamed at the top of my long, sir me to any I'll never forget It- has today they think is the most beautiful way. I've heard someone describe their heart, he said I just love to make food and give it the people and put a smile on your face and he know that prior to that or did he discover that in the course of this you know, I would say, maybe both Maybe there was something that he kind of new and understood, but like being in that very moment, because there are the general public's coming by in sampling all these ice creams and they're, the ones that are voting, and so there was
Perhaps a moment where he kind of tied it altogether of you know, but what resonated in me in that moment with two things: number one: is it you ready to me where my love of food and cooking comes from it and that's my family growing up in here and taxes and a very, very tight knit ease texas family, that every sunday, my mom and my dad my off my aunt uncles cousins. We all went to my grandparents house for sunday supper and we all broke read together, though, is a child. To me, food meant a lot more than just nourishing the body. It was about the soul. about the family in so for this young man to say that to me was echoing my feelings about food, but also understanding, I knew his story and it would have been perfectly normal,
and admirable. If he would have said, I want to make food and make money and help pay rent pay, the electric bill put food on the table. That would have been noble, but he said I just love to make food and give it to people but a smile on your face and they told me when you got released, he was going to get a job in a restaurant, and then he asked my professional chef opinion on whether he should work at wendy's. Are Chile's I immediately went to heating the advice of my father and told whoever hires you first and whoever page of the most money. Second, but it was when I was driving home? I went from being inspired to angry. I went from being motivated to sad and discouraged because I started thinking about a story and I realized he was never going to make it to a when these are chile's when a young listen goes into detention, their released, nothing changes, so all the circumstance that took place there,
push them on that path and attention. It doesn't change and I would even argue in some ways it can be worse. and it just made me really reflective about myself because I started just in some his gratitude for opportunities that I had had in life, but then also acknowledging when I was sixteen years old, the disease, and I had to make in the decisions that he has to make a very different when I was sixteen. I was also given opportunity, Turning to succeed, I was given opportunity after opportunity to fail and try again and yet this young man was given one shot to make ice to show the world who we were and what he could do, and it wasn't even get a land of a job at when these are Chile's a kind. I had this moment of thinking that you know for each of us our lives. in many ways were dictated by choices that were made for us before we were born in kind of amalgam, gladwell, outliers kind away
yes, yes, I agree with that and I agree with the basically the privilege that you're talking about right. I mean we don't all start from the same starting line. I think that's very reasonable, but go back to the very very, very top of this conversation. What did we talk well how's your day going. Somebody asked me, and I talked about Well, I was omitted early in the coffee is hot and our hook up to be working, win, win win. It really is the small things stacked up on top of each other. At that start to define your day your week, you're our your minute and when you tell me that that kid one scream making contest a thing that most My god that was nice, carry on what's next, you know for him. You know he's sir Edmund Hillary, climbed everest. He did it and I get it
You know the opportunity to do another thing that makes you feel that way, that's intoxicating, and there you are driving home going back and forth between inspired and ashamed, which is a bit whips all I get it that's the moment, rights now, if you become the bloody, do gooder the search for years when I was hosting returning the favour, you're exactly the kind of person that we look for people who going about their life and they have won These moments you described and so ITALY, they're agitated? They wake up agitated because a the world's not exactly the way, they think it ought to be and be they feel convicted? All of a sudden to do something about it to put words into your mouth, but was the essence of what happened on your ride home. That's exactly what happened is your left with a choice, in every one of these, things are left with a choice which is, in my view
walk away and pretended didn't exist. Pretend I didn't have this moment pretend not to kill or am I gonna lean and do something different options: and was not an option. It was. If you don't like it, then you do something about it period. When I didn't know, is what that actually meant right at that moment So what am I supposed to do here? So I just started hanging out in juvenile attention. More often we're going My dad was like you. I saw this come the great fervors one way or the other is gonna wind up in the clink, so enter this world really for the time whether its through guilt. Curiosity or conviction How does it happen like take me to the point where you go? It's gonna be called cafe momentum and it's gonna consume my life and I'm gonna put everybody into thing whose around me, which
may I get how foundations work do their overwhelm? You know what now that I about. If, when you look at restaurant business as the rocky shore, where entrepreneurs from sea the shining sea gas smashed into pieces, and when you look at that foundation, space, the place where good hearted people who want to change the world go to fail, statistically speaking no fibre one sees fail faster than most small businesses, yeah right so yeah. So what do you do yeah a foundation in the most fraud, business world that you can, in a totally when I was telling people I wanted to open a nonprofit restaurant essentially taking gives out of jail and teach nobler knives and fire you didn't go somewhere else happened. First thing people would say yes, but our call restaurants nonprofit, for at least do not have, making history. I got a good resume but eat over me in a moment the
sure was to listen, and so I went and do the same gentlemen. He afforded me opportune these two go in every so often and do little cooking classes with youth in the facilities and in just listen we throw a lot of research and money. in extent, etc, etc. In trying to solve a problem when we just exacerbated is opposed to actually just listening to you it would do. I wanna know how to help these young people what I'm supposed to do with these young people. I should just ask them: what do you need? What's going on? Tell me about life and that's what I did I just listened. I listened. I would go in and teach in and listen in two themes came out of it. One is the staff inside The facility would use two words over and over and over again consistency and stability, consistency and stability in the young,
bore are telling you stories that ethically revolve around those two words can since the now the irish, we have. It is thinking of opening a restaurant working with justice involved youth that a restaurant would be a consistent and stable environment. I get the irony but that was it is. What, for me, was what do I know to do? What do I know how to do, and how does that apply to working with these people. That was where the idea for the original adoration of coffee momentum came about. Was in and actually it was. I was closing down my restaurant one night. I was on the phone with my business partner and I was complaining that I just I've been working with these youth for a year I had nothing. I wasn't moving the needle at all. We are making fry ice once a week, but that's about it and so was just complaining,
she just kind of snapped and said, then what do you want to do? And I just kind of snapped back and said: I just want to open a restaurant, let the kids run it when she said that can be a good idea and I thought we both been drinking. So so we know it's a good idea. We know it's great cycle but to recap you spent a year going. into the dallas detention centre, teaching kids, how to cook various things and realising that that wasn't offering the requisite amounts of stability and consistency. That would in fact make an observable difference. No, and in fact it's how we got the name cafe. Momentum was even understanding that for a lot of young people for me
I saw heard things that I didn't know where possible probable their youth that re offend in a facility so that they don't get released because detention offers you three meals. A day consists shower Abed, yet consistency, provided education access, mental health services, adult mentoring, there's a lot happens that you get when you're locked up that just goes away. They they send you home, and that's literally where the name coffee momentum came from was why how do we keep you know? I'm not fan of incarcerating youth, and I think I built a model that more effective understanding There are still these resources that they're getting there. So how do we keep that going once they're out so that there are not having to go down the same path that they did, that let em you know to the facility to begin with
what's interesting about the word, is there's nothing inherently good about momentum. I mean, if you're, going in the wrong direction, and you got momentum that great. If you follow out of a plane. Momentum is really not your friend not going to help You have a parachute right, but even then you know so The old guenaud stay the course be persistent and stay the course babbler only if you're going in the right direction. So that's right! So seriously, you're trying to course correct. Keep going. So you actually raise money. You opened the restaurant and I want to understand how you decide, who comes in and who doesn't work better marks exist and what obstacles you ran into with customers, backers, etc. I feel like throughout the course of story: there's a lot of where a joke and said you know telling people want open
non profit? Restaurant taking gives out of jail in each of their knives and fire. But the truth is that's what people heard and you begin to see all the stereotypes that people have about youth in detention I was on in a meeting with the german one time and the first thing out of his mouth and he was a potential Leon board that was going to leave us a restaurant space and literally the first thing out of his mouth was: let's just cut too at you and I know so. What are you gonna do when the kid stab each other in the kitchen No one is a man you ve euro, landlord of a restaurant space. Like you know, people that work, in restaurants, why would like our kids are a step up above the derelicts that I've worked within the past in restaurants? then people would say things like those kids, don't wanna work. They just want to collect a check. Those kids have never been to a nice restaurant. They can't cook your food.
This point has been nominated now for several years as best chef in Dallas. So I had a good you know, reputation in My thing was, but if you met them guy. Did you wouldn't say those things about em like I learnt right. So how do we create that? Because, on the one hand, forget a restaurant were never going to have a restaurant, a costume interim restaurant and programme. If this is the way that the community views these young people But even more so like this is what you tell these young people. They are every single day. You tell them, they dont want at work. They just want to collect a check. You tell them, they can't there's never been to an ice restaurant. They can't cook your food. This is what they. Here and for a young person, you begin to see that it's the scarlet letter they were on their chests says. This is who I am it's on, who I was to be a side who I wanna be but the world
Tells me this is why I am over and over and over again I just start to believe it, and so for me it was. How do I create a situation where to create that proximity where people are meeting our young people, they are standing face to face with them, they're learning who they truly are, and so I came up with the idea to do a series of monthly pop up dinners. the idea was the first one was june. Two thousand and eleven. The idea was to go on one of the top restaurants in dallas on a sunday night when they're closed, sell tickets to a private dinner. The chef writes a four course menu. The staff normally helping the chef in the kitchen, but also serving to the level and quality of service of that restaurant were eight young men that we would bus in from a juvenile detention facility in full candor, based on the rear should I had gotten just talking about the idea. I didn't think it right to show up so much. That I had a plan to call my mom and have our guilt. The ladys in her bible study class into mine tickets to the dinner, so that somebody would be there you. Did you want to sell?
we hear fifty. We wanted to sell fifty tickets for fifty dollars. I made it be. I'll be because I've nothing says we're trying to help youth more than putting them in a room full of drugs. I in fire I mean the whole plan was winning, but you know the first, the dinner sold out in twenty four hours. Oversold before we could turn the ticket link off and there were sixty three people dinner, that night in every single person, one when they stopped on their chairs in clapping, for these eight young and at the end of the night they walked out the door and they looked me in the eyes and said you know this could be my son and that was it that proximity truly getting to know them changed everything. I will tell you that we did get wise and by december of two thousand and eleven we doubled the ticket price from fifty dollars to one hundred and we
provided and regulated the alcohol, but by spring of two thousand and twelve, the dinners were selling out in literally fifteen seconds, we would put the ticket link up in fifteen seconds later it would be sold out, and I was right- june July, twenty twelve that had a conversation with my business partner and just said: do you know I need a walk? The talk, it's one thing to tell these young people that you believe in them at something very, very different improve it do do do do do do do do do do do. How many subscriptions are you currently paying for right now to five think again, the average person has twelve and most of those average people think they've got half of that? Why? Because that thirty day free trial you signed up for once upon a time, is the perfect amount of time to forget
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Calm, slash row, rocket money, dot, com, slash wrong saves money and we can show you with raga had money, that's money, dot, moneyed, icons, leisure, all right, sir Pop up dinners were sort of that kind, give tissue between you going into the detention halls and actually opening up a fixed restaurant. We're gonna do this, but I know I mean when I met you. I talk to a couple of kids who were there in colorado and of what are your partners close, was there I'm drawn a blank on I've, heard it yeah, so we and our chief strategy officer. Olivia coal was there and you had demonic, who was teaching you how to make biscuits, yeah, evelyn and I'm unique. Were there as well
So somebody told me there was a plan to do a pop up dinner at the superbowl, and I just read that you you did. I mean Just a couple of weeks ago? We did it yeah we did. I'm still less. The hard thing about getting older is used. My record and we're. in restaurants was a hundred and thirty hours that I worked in one week now. I feel like. Sometimes if I worked thirteen where's, my crew, and three day recovery ahead of me. You don't even know what day it is yeah it doesn't matter, you're a lie. That's all that matters with the success of the restaurant in programme in Dallas, we ve been afforded a lot of opportunity to expand inquiries about. How do we open a captain went on our city? How do we open a captain, varsity and so in march of twenty twenty? Here we go again with the really
credible business decisions and marginal twenty twenty started a whole new organization called momentum, advisory, collective designed to build more coffee momentum, restaurants and programmes across the country. step two weeks before the world shut down. Professor, yeah. It was a really impressive, the call people up in pittsburgh and say so you're saying you wanted a restaurant right. I got something for you but moment advisory. Collective is doing just that. Right were opening up caffeine, wyndham pittsburgh. In the next couple of weeks we ve already started programming and catering in spill over exploring five other markets, but one of the other things that we focus on momentum, advisory collective, is to build that conversation to create more of those pop up moments. Right, yeah, we're we're engaging
public abroad, because the reality is this: we're gonna build thirty, cathy momentum, restaurants and programmes in the next ten years. That's a piece of sonic ice on the iceberg. That is, youth incarceration. There are seven hundred and twenty eight thousand youth that entered the justice system in this country. single year, so we're not doing our job unless we're trying to put ourselves out of business and so success looks like failure and then I just go back to washing dishes. It was that's awful ambitious, but maybe if we could just take a second talk about the results that you saw, because this must have been another moment of discovery for you. It's one thing to follow your gut and it's one thing to say a bunch of tickets and watch people buy them because the very act of buying it makes them feel good. That's ingenious! By the way right, you want to give people a chance,
you want to appeal not just to their sense of good this in altruism, you wanna, go I'm a great meal. You want to give them something this of value in return, and if you can both of those things. You know I just dropped a couple, box the other night in a restaurant that frankly, I didn't have a lot to feel good about two miles away it rained on me. The service was sub par, the food was and a chewy, and there was a sign on the door. That said, thank you for your patience, but we've got a half a staff and we can't hire anybody and blah blah blah blah blah. Like that's, the restaurant world be able to sit down at a pop up meal, pay a fair price it's got a great meal and then leave thinking. You might help turn someone steel around in my view, that's the lesson here to actually offer something of gin,
when value in exchange for doing a thing that makes you feel good. That's simmering right! Underneath the guts of europe, your philanthropic bullion base lesson. Yeah, I'm gonna steal that I'm right on down to coming soon to the capital minimum near your philanthropic. Today's special bouillabaisse, with a rather dewy on the side in you, know as well. You can have the most well intended feel good mission, but who's going to show up in support If the food just sucks, no kidding man, there's no use, you can't there's no excuse for that. Now there and there are few things in life that is rewarding as a wonderful meal, and there are a few things in life. Is pressing as a really bad meal,
want to do both not both, we want to do a really great meal that you feel good inside and out when you come through and and it's important as well, because it's for us from a business standpoint, we want to be a great operating business model but from a you know, a statement that we're making. If you walk in- and you have a great meal, then you're thinking about those things right that I didn't think those kids could do that right. you're, beginning to kind of break that down and what a great way for us to start a conversation with you right so beyond the good business sense of acknowledging the fact that if the food is no good, our best intentions are just a pilot dirty rags. Who cares right beyond that? Talk about the impact statistics, because
that's really where the chilly meets the cheese and I'm sure your larger endeavour would be doomed. If you didn't have a really great story to tell. I have a very love hate relationship with data. I think data's, wonderful and I can learn a lot. I know what the weak and what you know ever, but but also understanding that we as human beings are just data. Rightly You said earlier: each one of these young people come in at a very different starting line. We worked with over one thousand youth in Dallas. That means over one thousand different starting lines: you're dealing with young people, young women, some of whom have been sex trafficked,
men who have experienced horrendous, foster care experiences, insignificant issues with homelessness. It runs the game at young people that each one meal a week and have for years in. So how do you take that in kind of break it down into being honest to the population you serve, but also in telling the right story? but also proving what impact looks like, and so when we first started, we did a lot of work and a lot of focus on recidivism kind of a low hanging fruit. But you know,
well. One of the things that we do really good in this country has locked people up and make sure they keep coming back and it starts at a young age. You know and kind of nationally. I think it's something around average of around close to fifty percent of young people of youth will come out of detention and reoffend within twelve months, and it's like almost seventy per cent, then by like three years and when you specific to the work that we're doing we just at a dinner in denver, and I was researching some their. Seventy. Five percent of the adults in prison in Denver said their first first time they went to jail. They were teenager Schuman, so you can point to that pretty quickly and see some remarkable improvements and the work that we do in you know when we first opened our recidivism rate was fifteen percent which, as you know, significantly less, but I think this That's told there is our little communism
how are these actually budget to incarcerate kids because they have to every year because they know x, number of youth, we're gonna go into jail in it. I just can't think to myself, but I wouldn't be. Better. If we use that money to invest in them, rather than lock them up like would there be a better like from a business standpoint, a better long term, investment, a return investment, and so as we and have continued to grow. We have started to push on things that aren't such like low hanging, fruit and focus on things that are really going to show kind of worthy trajectory is headed in life and the one end no child should be coming into our programme. Think This is great. Their whole goal is to keep me out of jail in a way that does not, as that very aspirational. So we focus on things like education. We focus on things like employment. We focus on mental health these- are all indicators of. What's gonna happen, ten fifteen twenty years down the road more than just making sure that they stay out of jail
It's why we built our own high school in Dallas. We went from having fifty four percent of our youth into the programme as high school dropout and easily when an argument that for if I have another forty six percent we're just completely disengage with school. They ve been kicked out there far behind because of going into tinge in schools or the first place.
If that's ever made him feel bad or dumb. Forty, two percent of the youth that we work with are experiencing homelessness. If you don't know where you're sleeping at night, your priority is not, you know going to read where the red fern grows on tuesday, and so you know building our own school today. One hundred per cent of the youth in our program are in school and on track to graduate or have already graduated, almost a third of them are voluntarily going into college. Looking at our youth and understanding that one hundred per cent of them come from some former level of trauma, some type of adverse childhood experience in our program. Eighty five percent of them are voluntarily receiving therapy and mental health services. These. the things that were looking out now to start painting a big picture of what generational change actually looks like so chad. Your success stories at this point
after several years of this, must be a voluminous yeah there. What drives me every day, We had a young lady that came through our programme, nay maya. When she first came to our programme, she had no stable housing. She had a lot of trust issues because of our past and things that have happened even in the group home that she was staying in maya completed our programme. Graduated high school went on to college graduated, magna coom loud and is now a medical assistant and the gastro intestinal unity, children's hospital of Dallas, just incredible human being. following along the same lines. We add children's hospital where young lady that went through our programme name evelyn, who english was her second language in
When evelyn was growing up, she was made fun of a lot because she didn't know English well, that would miss speak sometimes, and she became very self conscious when she came to cafe went on one of the first things that she said to her. he's manager was. I came here to make money, not friends single mom, and she spoke recently right before she finished our programme and told a group that what she didn't realises that she was gaining something stronger than family through the staff at corfu, momentum and, interestingly enough evelyn is now a concierge children's hospital and they hired her because she's bilingual, because she's after that, That thing is our its are super power, and we just
an email that she was given the award for value driven employee of the month that she has exhibited their values more than any other employee in the hospital and was given or so so the bar again, I mean. I know you made this point earlier, but it's not just how many people you are keeping for recidivism its laws what's happening. Paving the way for a career in the restaurant industry are paving the way for a career in life and life. And not just for our kids but their kids evelyn's a mom I'll. Give you one more because it just makes me chuckle we had a young man that went through our programme and an interview. After completing our programme, he was asked what was your least favorite job in the restaurant, and he said waiting tables
He said I hated it so intimidated by people. They said so be doing now. He said I'm way, in tables yeah. This young man, his name, is James. He went on to wait tables. Why put himself through diesel mechanic school because he loved working on cars that there was going to be good manny being a diesel mechanic put himself, there is little while he started on diesel and said, you know what I love. cars, are my garage working on diesels for a career. So The navy? Interestingly enough he's a medical assistance the navy stationed in guam, but I love that story to because it shows the rest wasn't the end goal for him, but it's the bridge that got him to the goal where he wanted to go and it provided that financial support for him to transition into going to diesel mechanic school. Realising that wasn't the right thing for him and going on to the navy way leads on the way I got it give out the money. You know it's just what
acknowledging my family, Action like yours is supported in part by stand together, that's you reason I wanted to have you on: they don't report endeavours to don't have momentum and don't have the ability to scale. So I know that you know you're too. In a big swing on this and- and I think too The thing we have in common is that in my work old I try and honestly confront the stigma and stereotypes and the myths and misperceptions it keep people from pursuing a career in the trade. And are you really doing the exact same thing with stigmas stereotypes tat, would keep people from giving many a second chance in this case, especially youth, so no that? Knowing that those stigmas and stereotypes are so pervasive? How are you many a pastor and raise enough money to actually duplicated this in areas where you're not I'll just be say. Plainly,
jed. Part of the reason why dallas, set money aside to make sure they can fund detention centres is big, Chad howitzers aren't pop up all over the place right so How are you going to clone yourself? Well, I have tell you there are a lot of people that are very grateful that there's only one chat house that is mainly a lot of teachers, you know what what we found is that
There are a lot of people around the country in every city that we ve been too so far that care deeply and passionately about the same population of young people. They just never been provided the resource, the road map for the business plan in some instances to pull something off, but what we are approving and other cities already is we ve found those people were surrounding them with our our knowledge and support and they're pulling it often in the work that's happening right now in pittsburgh is in nashville is, is incredible and in their building their own conversations in the cities, and I would even say when you break down what we ve done: it's not a foreign model right people open restaurants, all the time, you're one need
only read kitchen confidential tonneau that people have been hiring people and giving them second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth chances for decades and restaurants. But I think what does make us unique is just taking a more holistic approach that focuses on the individual and not the organization, and by that I simply mean that we work in the community, so a young person, coming into a restaurant, our case managers are helping them secure housing, but we don't have our own housing, we're working with housing partners, we're working with food banks, we're working with county hospitals, we're working with LEO groups to provide legal advice,
I see, but we're just making sure that all these people are talking and communicating, because what you find for so many of our young people is there in the legal system there in the education system there in the medical system and they're sixteen years old, trying to navigate it by themselves and there's no adult walking around saying hey. Let's do this together, let's make sure we just had an incident a few weeks ago in Dallas, where in the definition of insanity- and I wish I could It was our time is ever happen, but a young per on probation and their probation officer schedules them for a mandatory probation check in at two p m on tuesday, whereas a young person supposed to be at two p m on tuesday, Google, with school go to school, and so does young person now has a choice. I can skip school,
in the show up for my probation appointment, because if I don't show up for my probation appointment, then they could revoke my probation and I could go back to detention. But if I skip school and do that, then I'm true- and the schools gonna report my truancy to the probation officer which is doing, It caused my probation to be revoked and I'm going to go back to detention. There's no win right, but that's where our case managers step in and intervene and there's like okay, let's walk through this, so we're going to call your probation officer and we're going to talk to them about you being in school and we're going to schedule and just walk them through it, so that they're kind of seeing like how to maneuver, around it and they can do it on their own the next time. But again I would love to take all the credit in the world for it. I dont think that what we ve built is rocket scientist. I think we just take kind of a unique approach but teaching others that approach I'll, give you another anecdotal story. When you hire case managers or essentially social workers, they all come with a very
bureaucratic mentality, even bureaucratic muscle, memory of how they Can and do their job data driven are all but your daily refreshing, and I get lots of forms, lots of forms and there practice it to come into work for coffee momentum, because it's not the norm right because it is more holistic, because it's not just checking a box and pushing a paper and then passing somewhat along its more personal but when they come to work with us, their muscle memory is still that same so started doing exercise with case managers couple years ago. In the meetings we say are eight so we're gonna go around the room. First question is what one rule you wish can a broken last week, an answer.
She too is? How would you have broken it and just start to have that conversation around? You know them kind of breaking those habits and doing the actual work that they want to do, and I think that's just the out of the work that we do so ironic. You know J being a pattern is like the overarching point right. I mean that's the whole point with the youth, get him out of their heads change their pattern, change their course get to do the same thing with your caseworkers. You got do the same thing I mean, is the business of life. Right is just the hijacking back from time to time to say all you know what I'm not on the road. I thought I was on. How do I fix this what do you need that you're not get or what do you need that you would you getting that you would like more of more. Where's the day that we say that we can have a fresh out of those done. Sorry, I feel a lot.
Gratitude and what we are getting a minute. I think in the world of nonprofits. You always need more money. As we build more programmes, you need more money to build more programmes, but I also think you know, as I mentioned earlier, is just me opportunities like this more opportunities to have the conversation more opportunities to this head. Sound a little silly to bring people to the table, so it looks very noisy out there and there are a lot of well intended people doing a lot of important things, and you know whether The tv world you know thousand, shows that everybody scream and for you to watch, most of which seem to be food, shows by the way, the meat, isn't it crazy? When I was a kid, it was like the galloping gore may joy child and how to show and now tire networks, twenty four, seven, this wouldn't be in charge in this one's been yelled.
and I mean what Gordon did then. You mentioned tony Jesus. I it's amazing. It's amazing how the food industry copulating, with the tame business and gave birth to this enormous families, mutants with respect. Let me tell you, people have the popular misnomer that all we're doing is setting kids up to where in restaurants, arrests are like em if that's what they want to do so that they can write, and the national restaurant association has great data on them. In ninety five percent of all a strong managers in this country started off as a dishwasher. Eighty, five percent of all strong owners in this country, present company included, started off as a dishwasher. So there, that path but you're learning all these skills that you can take wherever you want like we talked about before, but I use tell people all the time, so I dont want these kids
be chefs. I don't need the competition and more food network is absolutely ruined it for the rest of us because everyone, women from having a food critic that would come in and try your food and customers that would come in talk about it or whatever to all. Then there is the food network comes out in every person that walks in your restaurant is now a chef and a food credit, the chef, food critic, combat rate, and they have a yelp account in. So it's tat trick. You know, I just know we're good. I remember when I first, talking chef friends about leaving preaching and going to coffee momentum and I'll, never forget a chef friend of mine was I oh, my gosh, so you don't isn't here it's so nice to go into a restaurant? You know how to cook for all those people and ask who is she He's gonna come eat the food. This is the same. People write it still the same critics,
yeah! Well, it's weird, because I know you foundation and your mission needs publicity. You need a light, shone upon. Because there are a lot of people in this country, we're gonna love what you're doing when they take a deep dive into your thing, but you don't need america's next top cafe momentum share out this week on cafe momentum, knives and fire and drug customers, I mean: is it one more piece of my asthma that you have to navigate. You know need a promotion and publicity, but not that kind. who needs support, but not with the strings are so often attached to it stands It is a great job better than me first, I think in finding an organization like this, but on in order articulate as we land this plane is that you, or absolutely surrounded by obstacles.
In a world where your success miss cities, your failure and still need help and support encouragement, guidance from all directions. So good luck with that may I want to jump in for a second matters before this little show started. You mentioned something about the superbowl and an elevator and mike said. Well, we better hit record and that has come up. Yes, I just what a Give it to me so super wall. We bought out of food truck and rebranded at players coalition, fuelled by cathy momentum and supported by stand together, foundation and
built this whole activation outside the media center and end of l experience to engage media and fans alike in joining our conversation, understanding our model and really having them rethink what the model for you, justice can and should look like in our country, and we had some incredible current and former, and I fell players come out to our activation and spend time with our young people with the media with fans in so I was with george kittle and his dad bruce and sister, a man an incredible family there, an incredible family and I've got to know bruce and emma for you know about a year or so just really great people- and I just met george for the first time and we're going from the media center over the street level to go this food truck activation of we're on an elevator and we're talking about something yeah, I said well, I was too
by a german one time that I had a face for radio in a voice for print, but I can't write so I don't know what to do and George just looked over amigos now, your voices ok, the face for radio in a voice for bread. That's funny. Well, and also apocryphal right right. You play the cards you can do is what you can do and you're doing it. Man, you're still here, up agitated you're still try to make the world a better place, and I think that makes you a interesting final question. You miss bourdain a lot. I first started cooking when kitchen company Joe came out, you know, as a young guy had a newborn child, I was going to under a school and working full time and trying to figure out.
If I ever knew what I was doing to read kitchen competence or was it was soothing, I think, is a good word for me, because I understood you know a lot of what he talks about about you're, just an kind of autopilot with constantly thinking about dishes and this and that and figuring it out learning and it was it made me, feel, like less craziest, keep going just keep going, yeah yeah and that crazies okay and had a good fortune to meet him. When cafe momentum had just opened, he came to the dallas museum of art and we got to cater some food and and got to meet them in so in. I think just the way that he and his interpretation of what food means old was really special and it was a gift that he shared with Alex. You know the way that he transformed or took tourism and turn
into travel and to food, turned it from some utilitarian thing that we all need XVII, our addiction to chewing and swallowing things and made emblematic of something much much bigger, don t talk for the last hour you're dead, something very similar you're doing it in your own way. By you're using the restaurant and you're using food to do something that has very little to do with digestion. That's what meant when I said you're playing you have your clearly a blow do gooder. You just happened to be a great chef who happened to have some success in the restaurant industry, and now you to give something back, and so here you go you made your own momentum and I'll tell you because Anthony bore Dana.
spent two weeks in lebanon and I was being hosted by a gentleman named commas. Our coup, the running joke in lebanon, is that his name appears on the new york times more often than the president of lebanon, but come all built. A farmer's market in Beirut, called sucre tied the good market and then a complementary role, I'll call tell it or table and come all philosophy. Is that food is the equalizer food is what brings people together and his example is that you know it in lebanon. You ve got a country that divided by the christians, the sudanese the Shi ites drew's, but they make a cookie and, in the Middle east, called my more little date, not cookie call my more like you could bring somebody from each other's fates to attend,
both and put a play a much more in the center of the table and the anger will turn anecdotal moving as though all tell childhood stories about eating mamma and that's the power and finally, that gets us to where I hope we would land, because is everything you just said about food in cross food and right in work and that's my world. Never forget, speaking A really rarefied group of very, very successful men in the woods seven years ago, one of I happened to be Charles coke, you know- and I told the story of dirty jobs. I told my own feeling of being disk acted from the very thing that mattered most to me. And getting reconnected too? That thing leaves of a tv show. You know, I told a few gross out stories and hard work stories and I prepared to leave. Chad I mean I was done. You know that,
You have to do that. I will abstain. three days because the twenty hundred men who had assembled for this event, mostly older and very accomplished. They all Pulled me aside to tell me about their first job right to tell me about that time in their distant asked when things were simpler, but weirdly, unified and so does not left on the planet in twenty twenty three that is truly universal, but food work, energy that stuff is still paulinus together. and so thanks for using your powers for good final plug, where people go to write, those elusive checks,
please go to cafe momentum, dot, org and you can keep updated and see all of our expansion plans and how you can get involved in helping us build a new model for youth justice. It's great cause thanks for doing what you doing next item in Dallas, which will be not too long from now. I don't think I'll swing by your door. no, the restaurant for you to eat at something tells me you do thank Jed. Thank you mike. When you leave a review, which we hope that you tell us who you are and before you go, oh well, and you fine.
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Transcript generated on 2023-02-22.