Custard Interview: Chris Moore

By Georgia Ward

The Clink Charity has one main aim: to reduce reoffending rates through hospitality training. The innovative rehabilitation initiative has already announced two new projects opening this year, adding to its portfolio of four prison restaurants at Brixton, Cardiff, High Down and Styal, The Clink Gardens at HMP Send and catering service Clink Events.

We caught up with chief executive, Chris Moore to find out more about the latest projects and what the future holds for the award-winning charity.

Tell us about your 30 years’ experience in the hospitality industry:

Before I was appointed chief executive of The Clink Charity in 2010 as part of a long-term plan to expand the prisoner training concept across Her Majesty’s Prison Service, I previously worked for 13 years at Fenwick Ltd – the UK’s largest independent department store group. I was head of group restaurants, creating and operating 37 restaurants across 12 UK sites. Prior to that, I worked at Harrods Ltd for eight years as restaurants general manager, developing the in-store restaurants and food hall eateries. I have also worked for the Hilton Hotel Group in the UK and Holland and trained with the Holiday Inn Hotel Group in New York.

The Clink Charity has just announced the opening of its seventh project, The Clink Café in central Manchester. How does it feel to be opening the first Clink facility away from prison grounds?

We are delighted to be opening The Clink Café at the stunning Grade-II listed Canada House on Chepstow Street, Manchester. We are currently fitting out the ground floor of the refurbished cotton packing warehouse, owned by LJ Real Estate, to create a modern, relaxed space for tenants of the building and shoppers to stop for lunch or coffee.

Following the incredible success of the four Clink Restaurants, the new café will continue our great work rehabilitating offenders. Focusing on training, Clink Graduates as well as homeless clients of the Centrepoint Charity will gain their accredited City and Guilds NVQ level’s 1 and 2 in Food and Beverage Service, as well as Barista skills. Once again, working alongside Centrepoint allows us another opportunity to expand the great work both charities do to help those who need a second chance.

The charity is also converting a building at HMP Downview into a central production kitchen for Clink Events. How will this help the catering arm of the charity?

To date the food preparation for external events has been done through the restaurant kitchens. Due to the success of the Clink Events and our contract with Guildhall in London, we now need to increase capacity. We will be training up to 30 women prisoners at a time in the new central production kitchen, which will include a private dining room overlooking the kitchen providing a chef’s table seating up to 20 people.

What’s the future vision for The Clink Charity?

Our current mission is to see more than 1,000 highly trained and qualified Clink graduates enter hospitality employment each year by the end of 2020. In achieving this we would hope to open more prisoner-run public restaurants, gardens and cafes that not only provide more ex-offenders with a second chance at life, but also produce the next generation of the UK’s finest culinary talents – a key thing to consider when the industry is experiencing such a shortage in skills.

What have been your key achievements at The Clink Charity?

Over the last 8 years as a team we have achieved amazing results in partnership with HMPPS. We achieved one of the lowest reoffending rates in the UK as reported by the Justice Data Lab, won 63 awards including charity of the year, all four restaurants were number one TripAdvisor at the same time in July 2017, we trained over 1,800 prisoners to date and served over 100k members of the public in 2017.

Tell us something people would never guess about you?

I am taking part in the Prudential Ride London to Surrey 100-mile bike ride on Sunday 29 July in aid of The Clink Charity and Hospitality Action.

To sponsor Chris and help raise money for these two worthwhile charities, please click here.

To find out more about The Clink Charity, please click here.