Pop-up Restaurant in Cork Prison – The Open Door Restaurant - March 12th, 2024

Pop-up Restaurant in Cork Prison – The Open Door Restaurant
The third installment of “The Open Door Restaurant” initiative took place at Cork Prison on March 12, 2024

12th March 2024

The Irish Prison Service in collaboration with the Department of Tourism & Hospitality at Munster Technological University and IASIO were delighted to host the third installment of “The Open Door Restaurant” initiative that took place at Cork Prison on March 12, 2024. The Practical Culinary Skills program that involved six prisoners underwent an intensive eight-week course aimed at assessing learning outcomes and providing them with practical experience in a live restaurant setting within Cork Prison. Invited guests and potential employers were served by Hospitality Management students from MTU during the event.

Speaking at the event, Governor of Cork Prison, Liam Spacey said, “Given the current shortage of workers in the hospitality sector this unique initiative focuses on identifying and unlocking potential while creating realistic employment opportunities for prisoners post-release. This initiative signifies the Irish Prison Service’s commitment to rehabilitate prisoners and ultimately help create safer communities for all”.

Managed jointly by the Irish Prison Service, MTU’s Department of Tourism and Hospitality, and IASIO, the program is tailored to enhance culinary skills and workplace learning among prisoners, enabling them to pursue further training, education, and employment upon reintegration into society.

The President of Munster Technological University’s, Maggie Cusack said, “I’m delighted to see this event take place again for a third year. The Open Door Restaurant, and the practical culinary skills course leading up to it, have been nationally and internationally award winning and have had a truly transformative effect on the lives of those in custody. I wish all the participants in this year’s course the very best for the future and hope their new skills will provide many opportunities for them in education, employment, and a better life.”

Also speaking at the event, IASIO Operations Manager, Jacob Harmon said, “The practical skills and training delivered through this collaboration, emphasises the potential for qualified prisoners to become valuable assets to employers. I believe this award winning initiative has the potential to be replicated in other prisons nationwide and link more of our clients to employers with real, sustainable jobs in the community”.

The initiative highlighted the diverse work and training opportunities available to prisoners in custody seeking meaningful engagement as well as the professional support services available to help them achieve realistic goals for their reintegration back into the community. Past graduates of the programme are now working in hotels and restaurants nationwide gaining even more skills and qualifications, ensuring their jobs are sustainable and well paid, proving people leaving prison are valued by employers.


For further information contact:
The Press Officer
Irish Prison Service
Ballinalee Road
Co. Longford
T. 043 3335235
M. 0876674284
E. pressoffice@irishprisons.ie

Note to Editors:

The Practical Culinary Skills programme is a multi award winning collaborative initiative between The Irish Prison Service, Munster Technological University, and IASIO. This collaboration sees six participants engage in an eight-week intensive course in Cork Prison. The programme is designed to train and educate prisoners to improve and develop their culinary skills in workplace learning and progress towards further Training, Education and Employment opportunities in the community.

It supports and encourages all participants to reach their potential and acquire recognised industry and academic accreditation such as a Special Purpose Award (5 credits) in Culinary Skills and the EHAI – Primary Course that includes Food Safety and HACCP training which allows you to secure employment in Hotels, Restaurant and the Catering industry in Ireland. It highlights the many available opportunities to prisoners in custody who want to engage in a meaningful way as it supports and allows them to set and achieve realistic goals that will transfer with them back into the community.

Each participant attends the kitchen Work Training unit twice a week and are tutored by a lecturer from the MTU Tourism & Hospitality Department under the supervision of a Work Training Officer (WTO). It combines workplace training with hands on practical skills development in a live kitchen environment. It offers all participants the opportunity to further develop their learning, attain new skills and training and offers a real pathway to open the door for graduates to continue to engage in the community and reduce recidivism rates by moving away from a life of crime and providing for their family.

This annual initiative demonstrates how the Irish Prison Service and programme partners are future focused, supports the rehabilitative needs of prisoners and potentially offers a solution to employers in the Hospitality and Tourism Industry with providing new motivated employees to fill the current shortage in their sector. The Department of Tourism and Hospitality at MTU encompasses the areas of Culinary Arts and Culinary Studies, Tourism Management, Hospitality Management and Hospitality Studies, Beverage Industry Management and Home Economics & Business, and has over 500 students studying in a dedicated building on the Bishopstown Campus in Cork.



L-R Former Student, Miren Rakovac and JJ Healy, Lecturer MTU

Governor of Cork Prison, Liam Spacey

L-R, Des Holton IASIO, Dr Noel Murray, Head of Department of Tourism & Hospitality, MTU,  Alex Petit Executive Head Chef, Trigon Hotel, Caitriona Twomey, Cork Penny Dinners, Olwyn Murphy, HR Manager in Hayfield Manor Hotel, Former Student, Miren Rakovac, Richard Herlihy, Jacob Harmon, IASIO Operations Manager, Colm Carey, IASIO