“I went to prison and I loved it” is not something you hear every day. But visiting one of the four Clink Restaurants in the UK will certainly be an enjoyable, memorable and delicious experience. Since the first Clink opened in 2009, more than 500 prisoners have been trained to industry standard, cooking for and serving 4,000 guests each month. The project is run by the Clink Charity, aiming to reduce reoffending through training and placing graduates, upon their release, into employment in the hospitality industry – achieving incredible results.

How it works

All food is organic and delivered to the prisons unprocessed. Fish is delivered whole and inmates are taught how to filet; sausages are made from scratch, i.e. whole pork carcasses; even pasta is handmade. Menus change with the season, with a special Christmas menu for the festive season, and for each menu, the head chefs of all four prisons are coming together to incorporate different techniques and skills that will be tackled in the weeks to come. The result is fresh restaurant food, made with love and pride and lots of care, served enthusiastically by inmate service staff. Diners would hardly notice anything different from a regular restaurant, apart from the rigorous security they will have gone through upon their arrival. But the experience is a profoundly positive one, with diners being more aware and arguably more appreciative of where their food is coming from. The four locations – Brixton, Cardiff, High Down and Styal – also play host to special events like fundraising dinners or corporate events in their event spaces on site or catering for outside the premises.

Star guest chefs

This month, the second chef dinner took place with Giorgio Locatelli taking over the kitchen of The Clink Restaurant for one night only. Prisoners created an authentic Italian menu by this Michelin-star chef and raised funds to support The Clink Charity. The menu included a selection of breads and grissini; pasta twists, tomato, black olives, capers, anchovies, almonds; pan-fried fillet of cod, lentils and parsley sauce; and a pick-me-up tiramisu (pictured). The dinner also included a delicious grapefruit-based non-alcoholic cocktails wittily named “Faulty Sours” by its creators.

Upcoming events

The next guest chef to host an evening at The Clink Restaurantwill be Cyrus Todiwala of Café Spice Namasteon on Tuesday,13October. The last event for the year is on Wednesday 11November and is being hosted by Adam Simmonds, formerly of Danesfield House.

Christmas Menu

The festive menu for Christmas (available at lunchtime from 30 November –23 December) already stands and prisoners will serve starters such as pulled pork rillettes with apple gel or smoked salmon and prawn mousse, mains such as traditional roast turkey or honey roast gammon, and desserts such as traditional Christmas pudding with crème anglaise or beetroot and dark chocolate ganache.

To find out more about the charity, visittheclinkcharity.org