“People learn by doing,” says Executive Chef Adam Garcia.

And he should know. Garcia has worked at some of Houston’s best restaurants, including Revival Market Coltivare, and the former Pass & Provisions. 

Now he is director of operations of PX Project Inc., a workforce development program and non-profit organization focusing on youth primarily from the Sharpstown and Gulfton neighborhoods of Houston.

Serving people ages 18 to 24, the PX Project combines kitchen job training in an experimental learning environment with instruction on life and work-readiness skills, health and nutritional education. 

“With the kitchen as our vehicle, we focus on a wide-range of employability skills as well as social and emotional health,” Garcia said.

Dr. Tom Pace, senior pastor at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, led an effort in 2019 to raise money for a new project to expand on the congregation’s community service missions. After months of research, a church committee landed on the idea of bringing a workforce development program to Houston. 

The chosen model is used in many cities across the country, Garcia said — a training program in a culinary setting. 

“With the help, trust, and support of many, PX Project became a reality,” he said.

In the restaurant industry, the term PX is used to describe VIP customers —  extraordinary people meant to be shown extra care.

PX Project is on its fourth cohort of “fellows,” or students. Learn about them by watching these videos.

“Our pilot fellows were vibrant, full of personality, and eager to create stability for their families while discovering what their talents are,” Garcia said. 

This summer, the PX Project will break ground for a facility at 6856 Bellaire Blvd. on the church’s Gethsemane Campus in the Southwest Management District.

The building will boast a training kitchen and cafe and will share space with partners such as reVision, Legacy Community Health and Connect Community.  

“Our state-of-the-art kitchen will allow us to expand our cohort size while the attached cafe will provide the opportunity for real-world training,” Garcia said.

Why the Southwest District area? 

“Sharpstown/Gulfton is the most diverse neighborhood in Houston, which is now the most diverse city in the United States,” Garcia said. “St. Luke’s has been part of the community for over a decade now, and we have a deep love and respect for the neighborhood and people in it.”

While the building is constructed, community members can support the PX Project and sample the fellows’ culinary creations served to them at home.

“The menu is curated with the help of the host and our fellows are the star of the evening, providing an opportunity for them to share their stories and build personal and professional relationships,” Garcia said. 

Prices, typically around $100 per person, vary depending on what the host wants. The host also has the option of bringing in PX Project partners Everywine, wine professionals who provide the perfect beverage pairing.

The fellows have also made lunch for St. Luke’s staff and friends, with nearly 4,000 meals sold so far. Lunch is available to the paying public for pick-up at St. Luke’s at 3471 Westheimer. Join the list to get the latest menu here

— Dorothy Puch Lillig