02 | Dec | 11

Richard Johnson

Can Cook, Will Cook

The BSFA have always seen street food as an agent for social change — a vital ingredient in the regeneration of city centres and our broken society. Thank God, we’re not the only ones. This month, a cookery school in Liverpool starts training prisoners on how to run their own street food businesses – it’s a radical idea. “If we want to reduce re-offending,” says Professor Alison Liebling, director of the Prison Research Centre’s Institute of Criminology at Cambridge, “people who go into prison have to come out changed.” And what Can Cook intend to do.

Set in Liverpool Prison, Can Cook and their team of chefs will take over the staff mess and work with a team of seven prisoners, transforming the current food offer into the first street food café within prison walls. The street food approach will drive the training and the enterprise model will sustain the café going forward. Pizzas, curries, pies, fresh stock-based soups and stews — everything will be home-made. Over 80% of prisoners leave unemployed, and they’re 13 times less likely to gain employment compared to those with no prison record. Street food has clear market opportunities. Phase 1 of the Can Cook plan starts next month with the first seven prisoners in Liverpool Prison — the British Street Food Awards hopes to be involved with phases 2 and 3. Watch this space.