Food News

Dallas Restaurants Made Possible by El Centro’s Culinary Program

Chad Houser
Chad Houser courtesy Cafe Momentum
click to enlarge Alex Astranti (far left) at last year's Okrapalooza with fellow El Centro alumni Daniel Pittman (third from left) and Adam West (second from right) - TAYLOR ADAMS
Alex Astranti (far left) at last year's Okrapalooza with fellow El Centro alumni Daniel Pittman (third from left) and Adam West (second from right)
Taylor Adams
Did you know many of Dallas’ top chefs received their culinary education from a community college?

El Centro College’s Culinary, Pastry and Hospitality program has birthed several chefs and restaurateurs, many of whom have been in business for more than 20 years. Through hands-on instruction and service simulations, El Centro students receive top-of-the-line education. Below are some Dallas favorites who are alumni of El Centro's culinary program.

Alex Astranti

Uchi


Chef Alex Astranti is making waves at both Uchi and Uchiba, and he got his foundation at El Centro.


Dunia Borga

La Duni


La Duni is known for its incredible Latin pastries, and its recipes are all created by Dunia Borga. Since opening in 2001, La Duni has received numerous awards and accolades, including one of the 50 best Hispanic restaurants in the nation by Hispanic magazine. Borga credits much of her success to El Centro, where she says she received the foundation to help each guest create magical memories.

Richard Chamberlain

Chamberlain's Steak and Chop House


One institution of sorts in Dallas is from El Centro. Richard Chamberlain earned his culinary education at El Centro before opening Chamberlain's Fish Market Grill and Chamberlain's Steak and Chop House.

click to enlarge Chad Houser - COURTESY CAFE MOMENTUM
Chad Houser
courtesy Cafe Momentum

Chad Houser

Café Momentum


Located within a 10-minute walk from El Centro’s downtown Dallas campus is Café Momentum, run by alumnus and executive director/executive chef Chad Houser. Houser co-founded Café Momentum with Janice Provost, where they provide culinary training for at-risk youth.

Daniel Pittman



Chef Daniel Pittman first earned a degree in music, then later fell for the restaurant industry. He'd get his education at El Centro before working at the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas. Later, he'd open LUCK at Trinity Groves.

click to enlarge Janice Provost (center) - TAYLOR ADAMS
Janice Provost (center)
Taylor Adams

Janice Provost

Parigi


Parigi’s executive chef, Janice Provost, was actually working at Parigi for three years before buying the restaurant. She was attending El Centro when she first started working there, and to this day, often recruits students and alumni of El Centro to work for her.

“El Centro is a treasure in our community,” Provost says. “In my case, it allowed me the opportunity to study culinary arts while still maintaining my day job.

“The classes were in the evening, and were absolutely affordable, and I learned so much.”

click to enlarge Chris Vogeli - COURTESY III FORKS
Chris Vogeli
courtesy III Forks

Chris Vogeli

III Forks


III Forks is a favorite among Dallasites, as well as tourists. For nearly 22 years, Chris Vogeli has remained a staple on Dallas’ food scene. Vogeli often credits his success to El Centro and is known for encouraging those who want to go into hospitality to not overlook their program. He describes the institution as “an incredible foundation into the food and hospitality industry,” adding that classes are “fun, convenient and affordable.”

Adam West

Local Yocal BBQ and Grill


Adam West, executive chef at Local Yocal BBQ and Grill in McKinney, was part of El Centro College’s Hot Food Competition Team. West has also won ACF culinary medals in Orlando, Chicago, Dallas and Houston. Since graduating from El Centro, West has worked as a sous chef in several restaurants across the nation, including Jeroboam Urban Brasserie, Dragonfly Restaurant, the James Beard House in New York City and Monarch Restaurant in Houston and the Porch.

Taylor Adams contributed to this report.
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Alex Gonzalez has been a contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2018. He is a Dallas native whose work has appeared in Local Profile, MTV News and the Austin American-Statesman. He has eclectic taste in music and enjoys writing about art, food and culture.
Contact: Alex Gonzalez