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17th November 2023

Wagamama launches cooking classes at female prison to teach future chefs

Written by: Edward Waddell
In partnership with the Ministry of Justice a team of Wagamama chefs visited HMP Downview to serve up a cooking classes to ‘inspire’ female chefs of tomorrow.

The chefs from Wagamama helped to train 18 prisoners to cook some of the restaurant’s classic dishes to bring to life the experience of working in one of their busy kitchens. The Wagamama team, headed by Lauren Robbin, fed hundreds of inmates and staff food that had been prepared by the women inmates.

All of these dishes were made from scratch with fresh produce enabling the women to learn new skills and get a true flavour for what working in a Wagamama kitchen is like. Dishes included chicken katsu curry, yasai katsu curry and bang bang cauliflower. 

Over the last year the Ministry of Justice and Wagamama restaurants have formed a special partnership to take chefs into prisons and teach inmates cooking skills and ultimately offer them work so they have a job when they are released, helping to minimise the risk of re-offending. 

The project has been successful in the five male prisons they have visited so far, including a number of hires and in one case an apprentice has been promoted to managerial level.

A Wagamama spokesperson said: “Supporting prison leavers into meaningful work has seen us visit a number of prisons across the UK where we have talked to men and women, close to release about Wagamama, who we are, what we stand for and the job opportunities we have to offer alongside the apprenticeship opportunities to build on any kitchen-based education they have received from the prison.

“Wagamama believes that people deserve a second chance and we commit, through our people promise, ‘all on one bench’ that our teams will always feel part of our no judgement community. We’re committed to making sure these women see the opportunities available to them, especially having seen the impact first hand from our previous sessions and hope to help more people transition into meaningful work at Wagamama, whilst supporting in the wider goal of reducing reoffending.”