Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pop-Up Popularity

We have come a long way from our first pop-up dinner.  Going into that first dinner, we had no idea what to expect.  We were all strategizing a plan to call in favors, beg and even blackmail (if needed) people into buying tickets.  I remember vividly the groveling phone call I was prepared to give my mom to convince her that it was within her godly rights and (son's) best interest to guilt all of the ladies in her bible study class into buying a ticket.  Thankfully, she didn't have to.  Our first pop-up, with two social media posts as its grand marketing plan, sold out in 24 hours.  Actually, it oversold before we could turn the Paypal off.

Over the course of the next 17 dinners, we have slashed that time down to a whopping TWENTY SECONDS!  Most importantly, 97 young men have felt the love and encouragement that you all have given with your ardent support.  I will never EVER be able to thank you in words, but know this - before every dinner, we conduct a pre-shift meeting with the eight very nervous young men.  Part of my duty is to explain to them about the excitement of working at Cafe Momentum.  Each time, I tell them how many guests are coming and how quickly the dinner sold out.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the looks on their faces are priceless.  You see, for these young men those stats emphasize YOUR support and actuate a feeling they have never felt before - PRIDE.   For most of them, working at a pop-up dinner is the first time in their lives that they have ever had the opportunity to be a part of something so special.  

If you haven't had the opportunity to experience a pop-up dinner yet, I am sincerely sorry.  Please know that we are working feverishly to get the permanent restaurant open so that we may have the privilege of having you join us every night.  In the meantime, please continue to get on-line each month, and keep trying to purchase tickets because its that very support that starts the momentum... and the smiles.

NOW, over the course of 18 dinners some of you have dropped a few hints as to your secret strategies used to score tickets each month. Tsk tsk.  You should know that I can't keep secrets...

Hint #1 (The Refresh Method) - If tickets go on sale at 12:00, then be on the Eventbrite page at 11:57 and start hitting the refresh button repeatedly until noon.  At worst, you have done three minutes worth of finger exercises, and have earned a much deserved cookie break.

Hint #2 (The Buddy System) - Find a friend that wants to go too and strike a deal.  You call one another at 11:56.  Follow hint #1.  Spend the next four minutes repeatedly asking each, "Did you get in?" "No" "You" "No" until one of you gets in and BOOM, you order a ticket for each of you.

Hint #3 (Wait List) - While not the most sure fire method, this is flu (and every other virus) season.  February's dinner had 8 seats open up because of last minute cancellations due to illness.  SO sign up for the wait list, and then wish illness on those that got tickets already.  (not really, kinda)

I can't 100% guarantee that following these three hints will lead to a pop-up ticket, but it will earn you a cookie, a brief chat with a good friend, and pride for eight young men.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Pop-Up Dinner: March 10, 2013

Tickets on Sale Soon for March 10 Pop-Up Dinner With FT33’s Matt McCallister

We are pleased to announce that the guest chef for Cafe Momentum's 19th Pop-Up Dinner is Matt McCallister. The pop-up dinner takes place March 10, 2013 at 6 pm, at FT33; located at 1617 Hi Line Drive. Seats for the $100 four-course dinner can be reserved at

About Graham Dodds
      FT33 is Chef Matt McCallister’s first solo venture, opened on October 13, 2012 in
Dallas and serving “seasoninspired modern cuisine.” He showcases the highestquality
products, treats them with respect, and strives for innovation. “I don’t print my menu
until I know which ingredients are best that day,” he explains. “That should be the
natural progression, rather than do the reverse, creating a dish and forcing whatever
ingredients are available into it.” McCallister also has a penchant for creating
unorthodox pairings of ingredients. “I always prepare a few dishes that are risky, which
challenge both me and my customers in the best way possible,” he says.
Before becoming a thoughtfully progressive culinarian in the Dallas dining
scene, McCallister was torn between the visual and culinary arts. He ultimately chose
cooking as a career, even after attending the Metropolitan Arts Institute in Phoenix for
fine arts in 2000. “Art was a passion that always competed with food, but cooking gives
me an opportunity to blend the two,” says the Scottsdale, AZ, native, whose artistic
sensibilities were influenced by his designer mother and scientific curiosity can be
attributed to his research engineer father.
       In 2006, McCallister applied for a job at Stephan Pyles Restaurant in Dallas. With
no formal training—“I didn’t even know how to cook a beurre blanc,” he admits—the
aspiring chef began working the garde manger station at the renowned temple of fine
Southwestern cuisine. He rapidly ascended the kitchen hierarchy, becoming sous chef in
just over a year and executive chef within three years. Pyles, who was thoroughly
impressed with McCallister’s “raw and natural ability,” exposed his protégé to a wide
variety of cuisines beyond Southwestern, and McCallister had the opportunity to work
in revered kitchens across the country as a result: José André’s minibar in Washington,
D.C.; Mark Vetri’s eponymous restaurant in Philadelphia; Sean Brock’s McCrady’s in
Charleston, SC; Grant Achatz’s Alinea in Chicago; and Daniel Boulud’s Daniel in New
York. Upon returning to Dallas in 2011, McCallister worked with two design friends to
open Campo Modern Country Bistro in Dallas, for which he consulted on the menu of
rustically elegant nosetotail cuisine and inspired housemade salumi and charcuterie.
Extending the reach of his food philosophy, the chef and his wife founded Chefs for Farmers 
a grassroots organization supporting local farmers by introducing their
products to chefs, and vice versa. He is also a member of Foodways Texas and Southern
Foodways Alliance, and he actively participates in raising funds for Meals on Wheels.
McCallister earned a Mastering Wine Certificate from the Culinary Institute of America
in 2011.
        When he’s not in the kitchen, the 31yearold chef/restaurateur spends most of
his time with wife, Iris, and their young daughter, Ella, who is his constant companion
at the farmers’ market. He can also occasionally be found foraging for various wild
herbs and vegetables in and around Dallas.

Pop-Up Dinner: February 17, 2013

This Month's Pop-up Dinner With Salum’s Abraham Salum on February 17, 2013

Cafe Momentum is pleased to announce our next guest chef: Abraham Salum. The pop-up dinner takes place February 17 at 6 pm, at Salum; located at 4152 Cole Ave #103, Dallas, TX 75204. The menu for this Sunday's dinner follows:

Passed Hors d’oeuvre:
Edamame and Mint Hummus, Crispy Wontons
Asparagus Prosciutto Bruschetta with Parmesan Vinaigrette
Beef Tongue Sope, Chile de Arbol Salsa, Avocado and Queso Fresco

First Course:
Baby Octopus, Bay Scallop and Shrimp Salad
Bergamot Orange Vinaigrette
Spiced Crostini

Second Course:
Roasted Pumpkin Bisque
Goat Cheese and Chicharron Prensado Fritter
Chili Pumpkin Seeds and Crema 

Third Course:
Za'atar Crusted Lambs Neck
Caramelized Onion, Raisin and Almond Borek
Cucumber, Radish and Mint Salad

Chocolate Tart, Banana Cream
Peanut, Bacon Brittle

About Abraham Salum:
Chef Salum is a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont; he expanded his skills in kitchens in France, Belgium, Mexico, and the United States. Realizing his dream by opening Salum in 2005, he has proven to be a legitimate fixture in the competitive Dallas restaurant market. Salum is also a sought-after catering resource for private parties in the Dallas area, and is a popular choice for celebrations and functions, including parties for the Dallas Opera. Chef Salum has made frequent appearances on the local morning show Good Morning Texas, and Salum is a featured “D Best” restaurant in the prestigious local D Magazine. Chef Salum was also invited to be a Celebrity chef for Super Bowl XLV at the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX. Dedicated to charity and community, Chef Salum is actively involved in events benefitting March of Dimes, The American Heart Association, AIDS Resources Center, and Lone Star Ride. Other contributions include the Crystal Charity Ball, Toast of Life and the DIFFA Style Council.