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Wagamama runs first cooking class at a female prison

Wagamama has partnered with a female prison housing over 300 women to offer cooking classes to those seeking a career in hospitality upon release.

A team of Wagamama's chefs taught 18 prisoners at HMP Downview in Sutton how to make the Japanese-inspired restaurant chain's classic dishes for hundreds of inmates.

Wagamama is said to have been the first major UK restaurant chain to provide a partnership of this kind at a female prison.

As part of Wagamama's initiative at HMP Downview in Sutton, 400 portions of chicken katsu curry, yasai katsu curry, and bang bang cauliflower were prepared from scratch during the cooking class on November 15 and served to prisoners.

The class was run as part of Wagamama's partnership with the Ministry of Justice, which has seen five male prisons participate in the scheme over the past year.

Wagamama's visit to HMP Downview also formed part of the ‘Unlocking Hospitality' initiative, which is being led by the Ministry of Justice and New Futures Network, an organisation that connects prisoners with employers.

The scheme encourages inmates to join the industry to minimise re-offending rates. It offers hospitality roles to prisoners on licence so they have the chance to gain skills in the sector prior to completing their sentence.

Over 70,000 people are believed to be released from prison each year.

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.

'We were proud to work with HMP Downview's kitchen and turn it into a Wagamama kitchen for the day, enabling the women to see first-hand what it is like to work back of house in one of our restaurants.'