Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Jailhouse Chicken

I read this story in a recent N.Y. Times, and I thought it was a nice article. The Times' Pam Belluck writes:
. . . some defunct diners are getting a new lease on life from an unlikely source: young people in jail.

Behind the razor wire at Rhode Island’s juvenile detention center, teenage offenders are restoring four vintage diners that have been brought there by preservationists for the New Hope Diner Project.

This fall, the first restored diner, Hickey’s, should open in Rhode Island, with some of the teenagers working the griddles and the cash register, and even preparing to manage the restaurant someday.

. . . “Building birdhouses like a traditional high school program is not what these kids need,” [community liaison John] Scott said. “We’re actually preparing them for all kinds of skills: there’s ceramic tile in these diners, sheet metal work, plumbing, electrical. You always meet people who want these kids to be locked away, and I respect their ill-informed opinion. But I look at the training school as kind of like Home Depot of the correctional system. We give them the tools, and when they’re ready to use it, they’ll use it.”

Other offenders here take culinary arts classes, receiving food-handling certificates.

Bill Tribelli, the culinary arts instructor, will help devise the diner menus, featuring some old standbys like corned beef and cabbage and “hot wieners,” but also recipes from his cookbook, “Jailhouse Cooking.” Those dishes include Jailhouse Chicken, Jailhouse-Style Macaroni and Cheese (made with WisPride or Velveeta), or Strawberry Mousse (Cool Whip and instant strawberry pudding).

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