words by Carol King
Italian chef Antonio Carluccio will prepare an Italian Christmas lunch alongside inmates of a British prison.
The celebrity chef will cook lunch together with prisoners at High Down prison in Surrey, England on 3 December. The jail is home to The Clink Restaurant that is staffed by prisoners and open to the public. The award-winning restaurant seats up to 92 people, with an additional private area for up to 20 people. The three-course Christmas fundraising lunch is to raise awareness and funds for The Clink Charity.
Prisoners will greet guests and serve non-alcoholic Buck’s Fizz upon arrival, before serving a special three-course Italian lunch under Carluccio’s guidance. Carluccio’s Italian Christmas menu offers starters of carpaccio of venison or beetroot, and a main course of porcini risotto or roasted goat served with oven-roasted potatoes with garlic rosemary and onions, Jerusalem artichokes and spinach.
Carluccio has dedicated a great deal of his time and expertise to The Clink Restaurant over the past two years. From running training workshops for the prisoners and hosting several fundraising events, the chef has played a valued part in the charity’s success. In January 2012, The Clink Charity made Carluccio a chef ambassador.
The concept was devised by award-winning chef Alberto Crisci, who set up The Clink Charity in 2009. It aims to reduce re-offending rates of ex-offenders by training and placing graduates upon their release into the hospitality industry. The charity represents an opportunity for change, offering prisoners the chance to gain food preparation, food service and cleaning qualifications. To date, 85 prisoners have been or are being trained in The Clink Restaurant at High Down and 25 have successfully been released into full-time employment. The charity says fewer than 30% of those participating in the scheme had found themselves back in prison, compared with the UK average reoffending rate of 61%. The charity is developing The Clink concept in other prisons throughout the UK, and The Clink Cymru opened recently at Cardiff prison in Wales.