Members of the Bakers’ Hall sales and marketing committee were put behind bars in Brixton Prison on Tuesday, and not before time you are no doubt thinking….

However, we have been released on parole and are back in the community to serve the rest of our sentence – hard labour for life on the aforementioned committee…… 

This was all because of a visit at our own expense to The Clink Restaurant inside HMP Brixton by Veronica Spofforth, Martina Juhascikova, Richard Hazeldine, Christopher Freeman and Andrew Beale.

The Clink is a terrific charity that gives serving prisoners the opportunity to work in a commercial setting while behind bars. And the reoffending rate of those who have worked in the charity is 49.6% lower than for the general prison population, so it clearly works.  https://theclinkcharity.org/restaurants/brixton

The Clink served our Charter dinner in March, and did a good job – but for outside catering they can’t use serving prisoners for waiting staff as they might abscond, so use homeless people from Centrepoint instead.

On arrival we had a rigorous security process, and had to hand over keys, phone, wallet, id, even paper tissues!

At this point we realised that one of the other diners doing the same was none other than Jeremy Paxman!   

Then we were let through the big electric gate shown behind us in the photos above, and were held in a kind of no man’s land between two big doors where the men were frisked by a male prison warder, and the woman by a female one.

Being body searched while standing next to Paxo was not something I realised was on my bucket list, but I am grateful for the experience which can now be ticked off.

Then through more doors, more bunches of keys, and finally we arrived in a nicely decorated space in the heart of the prison.

We were offered a nice table and menus which were new that day https://theclinkcharity.org/theclinkcharity/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/SUMMER-2019-Main-Lunch-Menu.pdf

No alcohol is allowed (boo hoo), so we splashed out on water all round!

And all the cutlery is plastic, for obvious reasons!

Our waiter was charming, and admitted he knew nothing about the new menu, but his honesty was quite refreshing.

We had scotch egg and rabbit dishes to start, chicken, cod and veggie tarte tatin mains, panna cotta, chocolate pot and Eton mess desserts + tea and coffee.

Sadly no pics of the grub as our phones had been taken from us !!

The food wasn’t exceptional but was nicely presented and the kitchen and front of house teams are both clearly well supervised, while all the prisoners receive City and Guilds NVQ training modules (as mentioned in the menu).

Veronika ordered a peppermint tea and was told by the supervisor that the prisoners had half-inched all the teabags !!!!  But some fresh mint was found instead.

Jokes were made about the Shawshank reduction, and the Lambshank redemption (sorry).

All in all it was an excellent visit, and confirms our decision to add The Clink to our list of approved caterers which can be found here https://www.bakershall.co.uk/food-drink/