A top-class restaurant was opened inside a prison in Sutton, Surrey, Britain, according to media reports Tuesday.
The restaurant, The Clink, is the first commercial one behind the bars in the country.
Diners can have a two-course meal there for just six pounds (ten U.S. dollars) after they book in advance and obtain Home Office approval and security clearance. And they have to make do with plastic cutlery for security reasons.
The food is cooked up from the freshest ingredients, much from the prison's own garden, and to the highest standards. The chefs, waiters and kitchen porters are all inmates.
The Clink was the idea of High Down's catering manager Alberto Crisci, who said the aims were to rehabilitate prisoners and give them the skills to obtain jobs on release.
He stressed discipline was tougher than anything seen on a show like Hell's Kitchen.
The Clink offers a memorable dining experience. Patrons enter via the prison gates, following a security check, and cross a yard to a barred door. There, patrons enter a sixty by seventy feet dining room, illuminated by computer controlled lighting. From the reception area’s ten foot etched glass panel, customers will be led by a prisoner-turned-waiter, to prisoner-designed and built tables and elegant seating, set beneath an exhibition of British prisoner artworks.
The restaurant seats eighty customers at eight tables, served by ten inmates. Working with The Clink's designer, Derek Taylor, the furniture in The Clink has been designed and constructed by prisoners, hand crafted and signed by the inmate carpenter who produced the piece. An elevated area behind etched glass provides a smaller group of customers with privacy, while offering a clear view of the open plan food preparation area.
Food served daytime is principally wholesome and healthy British fare, with two sittings at breakfast (0630 – 0930) and lunch (1200 – 1400), primarily for staff and visitors. Invited groups and specialist events generate exquisite gourmet menus, using the finest locally sourced ingredients.
'The Clink will give each prisoner A genuine opportunity to meet future employers ...'
- Chef Alberto Crisci
While security at HMP High Down remains the primary concern, new systems have been introduced to ensure the appropriate screening of prisoners, staff and patrons. The Clink project and its associated educational courses will benefit hundreds of prisoners over the coming years.
With nine more prisoners at work in the kitchen (under the guidance of Chef Crisci and his ex-prisoner chef trainee), the open plan feature includes a Moltenia bespoke stove and a state of the art food preparation area.