Always one to add a little levity to the conversation, Chad often describes Café Momentum as “taking kids out of jail and teaching them to play with knives and fire.” But levity aside, it’s this charisma and passion to teach life, social and employment skills to Dallas’ most at-risk youth that makes Houser a hit with everyone from philanthropists and dinner-goers to the young people participating in the program.
After 17 years as a chef, Chad sold his partnership of Parigi Restaurant to devote his full attention to the role of Executive Director of Café Momentum in 2012. Since its opening in January 2015, Café Momentum Dallas continues to be recognized as one of the top restaurants in Dallas while also continuing to expand programming to include case management, mental health services and launching its own high school. In 2020, Chad co-founded Momentum Advisory Collective, a non-profit organization built to scale Café Momentum and a new model for youth justice across the country. Momentum Advisory Collective is currently expanding the Café Momentum program into Pittsburgh, Nashville, Atlanta, Denver, Houston, Boston and Baltimore with a goal of launching 30 restaurants and programs in the next 10 years.
In the Dallas community, where he resides, Chad is a member of the El Centro College Food and Hospitality Institute “Hall of Fame” and currently serves on the Dallas College Foundation Board of Directors.
In 2017, Chad and Café Momentum were featured in the Starbucks production of Upstanders Season 2, a series created to shine a light on stories of everyday Americans who are doing extraordinarily courageous things. In March of 2018, Houser was named a CNN Hero.
He has also appeared on The Rachael Ray Show, The Chew, The Hero Effect, and Pickler & Ben, The Steve Harvey Show and Good Morning America.
Additionally, Chad has received multiple nominations from D Magazine for “Best Up-And-Coming Chef” (2010) and “Best Chef” (2011 and 2012). In 2011, he received the Edible Dallas/Fort Worth “Local Hero – Chef” award. From 2015-2023 Chad was named one of the Best 500 Business Leaders in Dallas by D CEO.
Chad was also selected as Dallas Business Journal’s “40 Under 40,” and as one of the United States Junior Chamber’s (Jaycee) 2015 Ten Outstanding Young Americans. He has been named to the “Top 50 Under 40” by the Social Enterprise Alliance, an “Urban Innovator to Watch” by the New Cities Foundation, as one of “30 Most Interesting People in the Metro Area” by the Dallas Observer, and one of Good Magazine’s “Good 100,” individuals at the cutting edge of creative impact across the globe and in 2021 was the recipient of the UN Day Global Leadership Award for ‘No Poverty’. In 2022, Houser was awarded the International Association of Culinary Professionals Trailblazer Award.