Antonio Carluccio to make a special appearance at the festival

16 August 2016

A major coup for Woking’s award-winning food and drink festival, Antonio Carluccio OBE, has been added to the event’s celebrity chef line up.

One of the UK’s and Italy’s leading gastronomes, Antonio, is a Chef Ambassador for The Clink Restaurant at Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) High Down in Sutton, Surrey – a pioneering prisoner rehabilitation programme founded in Surrey.

On Saturday 3 September, Antonio will join fellow Italian, Al Crisci MBE, founder of The Clink Restaurant, on the Tante Marie Culinary Academy’s stage, starting at 1pm, to demonstrate one of the charity’s most popular dishes and highlight its innovative approach to reducing re-offending rates of ex-offenders by training prisoners and placing graduates upon their release into the hospitality industry.

Speaking about The Clink, Antonio Carluccio, said: “Since I accepted the invitation to collaborate with The Clink, huge progress has been made. The latest openings have been at HMP Brixton and HMP Styal in Cheshire, the women’s prison. The Clink continues to go from strength to strength with more prisoners getting into work. It proves that the idea is a valuable one and I am glad to see that ex-prisoners can get jobs in the industry.”

Describing The Clink Charity’s background, Chief Executive, Christopher Moore, said: “The charity represents a genuine opportunity for change, offering prisoners the chance to gain food preparation, food service and cleaning qualifications as well as experience within an exciting, operational and customer-facing business, and in-depth guidance to find full-time employment within an industry which has significant skills shortages.”

Following HMP High Down’s blueprint for success, the charity now runs three other award-winning Clink Restaurants at HMP’s across the country in Brixton, Cardiff and Styal. More locally in Send on the outskirts of Woking Borough, the charity also runs The Clink Gardens, a horticulture and food preparation programme at the women’s open prison, HMP Send.

The project gives female prisoners the opportunity to gain practical experience and nationally recognised City & Guilds NVQs in horticulture and the support required to secure employment upon release.

The prisoners working at The Clink Gardens grow, cultivate and harvest crops and rear free range organically fed chickens for eggs. Seasonal fruits, speciality and heritage vegetables and salad items are then transported to The Clink Restaurants where they are used to create fresh, seasonal dishes for The Clink Restaurant menus by our kitchen trainees.

Summarising the Charity’s successes, Chris continued: “Since the first Clink Restaurant was launched at HMP High Down in 2009, our success rates have been exceptional with 87.5% of graduates not re-offending after the training and their subsequent release. To name a few of our achievements, we’ve trained over 800 prisoners, served over 4,000 public diners at our restaurants, received post-release job offers from over 200 employers and won more than 40 awards!”

Antonio Carluccio is a much loved and respected Italian cookery writer, cook, restaurateur and food expert. People from all over the world value Antonio and his expertise of Italian cuisine. He has as many fresh new ideas as he did 50 years ago, and is about to publish his 23rd book ‘Vegetables’ on 20 October. Many know him as the authority on mushrooms and the ‘Icon of Italian Cooking’.

Antonio was awarded an OBE in 2007 and the national honour of ‘Commendatore OMRI’, the Italian equivalent of a British Knighthood in 1998.

Cllr John Kingsbury, Leader of Woking Borough Council, said: “Following the success of Carluccio’s restaurant in Woking, we are extremely honoured to welcome Antonio Carluccio to Woking Food and Drink Festival’s line up. His visit adds further weight to this successful event and The Clink’s innovative rehabilitation programmes.”

Named ‘Best Local Food Event’ at the Surrey Life Food and Drink Awards 2015, Woking Food and Drink Festival returns to the town centre for the fourth year running from Friday 2 and Sunday 4 September 2016 inclusive.

The free to attend festival promises to deliver another a three-day menu of culinary delights, including:

  • live demonstrations from celebrity and local chefs in the Tante Marie Culinary Academy Theatre
  • over 80 local and regional food and drink exhibitors
  • Dessert Bar demos and guided tours at Tante Marie Culinary Academy
  • Broil King BBQ demonstrations and cook-alongs
  • children’s cookery workshops
  • English wine masterclasses and tastings at Cellar Magneval
  • Woking Shopping Bake Off competition
  • celebrity booking signings in Peacocks Shopping Centre
  • fairtrade food and family quarter at WWF-UK
  • live music from Phoenix Cultural Centre and much more!

This year’s festival is delivered in partnership with Woking Shopping, and sponsored by Tante Marie Culinary Academy and the Woking Advertiser.

Image copyright: Laura Edwards