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Elior UK’s development chef goes behind bars to train young offenders

Chefs from Elior UK have spent four-days behind bars in Polmont Young Offenders Institute to train young offenders in key culinary skills. The ‘World Host Hospitality’ training, organised by Springboard, gave the ten attendees not only the skills to present and cook food in a professional manner, but also the confidence they need to secure work upon release.

Over the four days, development chef for Elior UK Iain Williams, along with Elior chefs Amber Mason and Chris Shanks, covered traditional kitchen work and prep, before challenging the attendees to a series of cooking competitions. Skills on show varied from perfectly preparing veg for crudités, to being runners for the food itself and learning the right body language for front-of-house service.

Iain has been doing this training for the past three years with Elior UK and Polmont Young Offenders Institute, but this year was particularly special. The Scottish Prison Service asked for the programme to be rolled out across Scotland, after seeing the offenders prepare and serve exceptional food to a conference of 70 people first-hand.

The impact of the training has already been seen. Iain Williams says: “The course is incredible, and seeing the reaction from all the delegates at an international symposium on youth offending this year was something I’ll never forget.

“But the best sign is how we’ve already had a couple of attendees from previous courses hired as general assistants in the industry. These are full time jobs they have secured directly because of the training they received on the course. We are hopeful the training will be rolled to other establishments out across the rest of Scotland.”

Colin McConnell, chief executive of the Scottish Prison Service, said: “The course was an outstanding example of the value of the human touch.

“The event was a master class in leadership, organisation and buy-in, and the smiles, energy and positivity from everyone involved was infectious and compelling. Everyone I spoke with was, to put it simply, blown away