In the kitchen

Al­most a decade af­ter The Clink launched its first restau­rant in­side Sur­rey’s HMP High Down, the char­ity has opened a pro­duc­tion kitchen next door. paid a visit

Surrey Life - - Gourmet Life -

If you’ve ever been in­volved in plan­ning a large party, wed­ding or cor­po­rate event then you’ll be fa­mil­iar with the ‘menu tast­ing’ stage of the process. The ex­pe­ri­ence is no dif­fer­ent when book­ing cater­ing through Clink Events – the cater­ing arm of The Clink Char­ity – ex­cept the tast­ing room is sit­u­ated be­hind barbed wire-capped, con­crete walls and you’ll need to go through a few vig­or­ous se­cu­rity checks be­fore you can sam­ple the goods.

In part­ner­ship with Her Majesty’s Prison & Pro­ba­tion Ser­vice, The Clink has con­verted a build­ing at HMP Down­view women’s prison, in Sut­ton, into a cen­tral pro­duc­tion kitchen for its ex­ter­nal events cater­ing ser­vice.

The state-of-the-art kitchen, which cost more than £640,000 and in­cludes an ad­join­ing tast­ing room with space to host pri­vate din­ing for up to 15 peo­ple, is now used to train fe­male pris­on­ers for their Level 2 City and Guilds NVQS in Food Safety, Food Prepa­ra­tion and Food and Bev­er­age Ser­vice. The train­ing is over­seen by gen­eral man­ager, Jonny Whit­field, and head chef, Christa Janse Van Rens­burg, and fol­lows the char­ity’s five step re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gramme; re­cruit, train, sup­port, em­ploy and men­tor.

“We train up to 24 pris­on­ers at a time in the new cen­tral pro­duc­tion kitchen,” ex­plains char­ity chief ex­ec­u­tive Christopher Moore. “To date the food prepa­ra­tion for ex­ter­nal events has been done through the restau­rant kitchens [within the neigh­bour­ing men’s prison, HMP High Down]. How­ever, due to the suc­cess of the events, we now need to in­crease ca­pac­ity.”

Launched in 2014, Clink Events of­fers cater­ing ser­vices for pub­lic cock­tail par­ties, re­cep­tions, buf­fets, din­ners and even wed­dings. In Jan­uary this year it was ap­pointed as one of the pre­ferred cater­ers at Guildhall, in Lon­don, and has catered for a num­ber of high-pro­file events in the city.

Grad­u­ates of The Clink Char­ity’s re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gramme (which has restau­rants in four prisons across the coun­try) serve guests at the events along­side vul­ner­a­ble young adults put for­ward by home­less char­ity Cen­tre­point. In­deed, they will be part of the team pre­par­ing food and serv­ing guests to the The Clink’s an­nual char­ity ball next month (Jan­uary) at Royal Lan­caster, Lon­don.

“The Clink pro­duc­tion kitchen will of­fer women the op­por­tu­nity to learn new skills and in do­ing so gain in­dus­try recog­nised qual­i­fi­ca­tions,” com­ments Robin Eldridge, gov­er­nor of HMP Down­view. “The prac­ti­cal work the women will un­der­take through The Clink, both within the prison and on tem­po­rary re­lease, will im­prove their chances of ob­tain­ing paid em­ploy­ment on re­lease and help them make a valu­able con­tri­bu­tion to their com­mu­ni­ties.”

To find out more about The Clink Char­ity or to book tick­ets to the ball on Jan­uary 11, 2019 (tick­ets from £130 per head) visit the­clinkchar­ity.org.

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