For its next pop-up dinner on July 7, Cafe Momentum is embracing summertime with a full-on barbecue picnic. Executive director Chad Houser and the young men of Youth Village Resources of Dallas are teaming up with top barbecue joints Pecan Lodge, Lockhart Smokehouse, Stanley's, Slow Bone and Joseph's Riverport Barbecue in Jefferson, Texas, for a meaty end to Fourth of July weekend.
Slow Bone is hosting the “pitmasters dinner” in which five pitmasters — one other barbecue joint has tentatively signed on — will serve a main meat and side. Houser calls it “a celebration of gratitude.”
There will be tents set up in Slow Bone’s parking lot, and a band will provide live entertainment. It’s considerably different from usual Cafe Momentum dinners.
“We’re going to sell 200 tickets for $50 each, beginning on June 23,” Houser says. “The idea for us is twofold. The first is to increase the opportunity for those who can’t get in to the normal dinners. The second is to offer something at a lower price than the typical $100 or $200 per seat, but guests still get to interact with the guys from Cafe Momentum.”
The pitmasters dinner will also be a change of pace for the young men, who are used to a more dining formal atmosphere. Instead of helping to prep, cook, plate and serve four courses, they’ll be working with each pitmaster to clear tables and hand out food at the tents.
“Part of what we want to do is expose the young men to different facets of the industry,” Houser says. “This is a wonderful opportunity to do that.”
Slow Bone co-owner Jack Perkins says the barbecue lineup is stellar; all of the other participating restaurants made Texas Monthly’s best barbecue list. Slow Bone is the newcomer, having opened in April.
Houser credits Perkins for being the driving force behind the dinner. If it proves successful, Houser wants to make it an annual event.
“The response for this, at our last dinner at Five Sixty, was overwhelming,” he says. “There are seven $1,000 sponsorships between the five pitmasters, the band and Hypnotic Donuts doing dessert, and we sold five of them at that dinner.”
Cafe Momentum is also busy implementing a $175,000 grant from the United Way. Current plans including additional staff, an improved database to help the Youth Village boys get placement, a permanent office location and a catering venture. “Everyone at United Way has invested time and energy and given us an unbelievable amount of resources, from accounting to office space,” Houser says.
“It’s not just my dining room anymore. It’s been all the way from business advisors to networking to nonprofit help. I don’t think you could put a price tag on that.”
As for the upcoming dinner, there are few details about which pitmaster will cook which meat, but Perkins says to expect anything.
“We’re going to do the barbecue standards like brisket and sausage. But you never know. They might pull something out of their ass and do something crazy.”
Tickets for the pitmasters dinner go on sale Sunday, June 23, at 8 pm.