Saturday, April 5, 2014


Want a unique dining experience next time you're in the U.K.? The Clink Charity trains and places offenders in the hospitality industry. The charity represents an opportunity for change, offering prisoners the chance to gain food preparation, food service and cleaning qualifications as well as experience with operational business and in-depth guidance to find full-time employment within the hospitality industry upon release.

The Clink Charity operates the Clink Restaurant at HMP High Down, HMP Cardiff and HMP Brixton in partnership with Her Majesty’s Prison Service. The Clink Charity plans to open 10 more restaurants by 2017.

HMP Brixton opened in February. The breakfast/lunch restaurant serves locally grown dishes like herb-crusted pork chops w/ wild mushroom and artichoke lasagna to around 100 diners a day. Upscale cuisine, cooked by inmates,  eaten with plastic cutlery. 

Locally grown and sourced ingredients are used whenever possible. The meats at Brixton Prison come from a local butcher, for example, while High Downs Prison supplies many of the vegetables used in the project from its own farm.

Prisoners at High Down also get to apply to work toward an NVQ in Horticulture and Gardening. Dishes are contemporary and European in provenance, and the menu changes every quarter or for special events.
Reservations are required and must be made 48 hours in advance. ID is required, and you can't bring your phone, camera, laptop, chewing gum, homemade shiv, or any object that could be construed/used as a weapon. To make the experience more authentic, diners are fingerprinted and photographed upon entry. 

The Clink also caters business meetings and working lunches. The menu features a seasonal selection of British dishes.

Guardian columnist and convicted murderer Erwin James supports the charity. James was released in 2004 after serving 20 years of a life sentence. "For me, there can never be enough rehabilitative initiatives in our prisons. Rehabilitation means fewer potential victims of released prisoners. It's just a shame the government relies on charities such as The Clink to provide those initiatives. The Clink restaurants vastly increase the likelihood that those who take part will discover, or rediscover, the satisfaction of having a skill to provide a service that makes them feel good about themselves."

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