As a child, Abisai Montes and his parents moved from their home in North Dallas to a rougher part of town, where Montes says he learned to carry a switchblade to feel safe. At 15, when he was on his way to see some friends, a stranger attacked him and Montes pulled out his knife. As a result, Montes spent time in a juvenile detention center.
In the video below, Montes says he was fortunate to have a probation officer who encouraged him to pursue an education and surround himself with positive influences. When Montes got an internship at Café Momentum, a nonprofit restaurant that trains adjudicated youth for careers in the restaurant industry, he excelled in the program, developed a close relationship with his case manager, and was awarded a full scholarship to culinary school.