The Clink - Prison Fine Dining Restaurant
Sheila Dillon visits Al Crisci's restaurant, The Clink, which is housed inside High Down Prison in Sutton. Al is head chef at the prison, and as well as cooking for inmates using fresh produce - including vegetables and salad crops grown in the prison gardens - he also provides the inmates with NVQ training in kitchen skills.
After winning the Best Dinner Man award at the 2005 Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards, he announced his plans to open a restaurant inside High Down, and he has now achieved his objective. Part staff canteen for the prison employees and part four-star restaurant for the public, The Clink aims to have a standard equal to any West End top hotel or restaurant.
Inmates receive training and hands-on experience of working at the top end of the hospitality sector. Potential employers are invited in to see the restaurant in action, taste the food and hopefully commit to employing its alumni. Ingredients are sourced from local businesses, and Al has searched through the seed catalogues to grow a succession of tasty salad crops and vegetables throughout the summer. His aim is to ensure that the inmates involved are fit to work in such establishments on release, that they have the ability to earn a decent salary and will keep out of crime.
Sheila visits the restaurant to learn about the food, the training and the interface between the restaurant food and that served within the prison. She also asks how the project is to be funded, if there will be jobs for the inmates when they leave, and who will be coming to eat there.