Three-star Michelin chef uses inmates' recipes for cookbook

Prison food usually conjures images of gruel, cold mash and mushy peas, but in France a group of inmates have turned their hands to haute cuisine.

With the help of the three-star Michelin chef Marc Haeberlin, 600 prisoners from across France have collaborated to produce a recipe book for cash-conscious food lovers.

I Cook for Myself Alone is a selection of 100 recipes that Mr Haeberlin, who runs the restaurant l'Auberge de l'Ill near Strasbourg, has selected from recipes sent from France's 165 prisons as part of a nationwide competition.

Among the meal ideas, are the "two-apple prison pie", the "solitary salad", and the "simplest sponge cake in the world". Aspiring entrants were told to keep quality at a premium but cost to a minimum. Ingredients costing more than €1 were banned.

Mr Haeberlin said he was very impressed with the ingenuity of the prisoners. He said: "Some of the recipes were extremely original. But you could tell that some of them were written by people who knew the business. I suspect there must be a few ex-chefs doing time."

Taking pride of place in the book is the competition winner, which was proposed by a prisoner in Caen, Normandy.

He suggested "sea-bream with mushrooms on a bed of lettuce". The prison authorities were so impressed that they awarded him a brand new television set.

Although I Cook for Myself Alone is likely to be very popular with pasta-weary students, it is, ultimately, dedicated to detainees.

Dr Claude Deroussent, who treats serious offenders in Alsace and came up with the idea for the recipe book, said cooking can be an essential activity for inmates. He said: "Inmates are always coming to me for advice about food and diets. So it seemed a good idea to encourage their interest. In addition to the recipes, we include a section on sensible eating and how to avoid common prison complaints linked to digestion, cholesterol and diabetes."

The prison chefs have to make do with the scantest of resources. They have neither refrigerators nor ovens, and each kitchen contains just one electric plate, one frying pan and one saucepan.

However they can buy most ingredients from prison shops, or ask for parcels from outside. One recipe even calls for ultra-expensive truffles.

Mr Haeberlin said the inmates' recipes were impressive given the resources available to them. "Some of them have incredible technique," he said. "They throw together an oven by wrapping a stool in aluminium foil and putting a hot plate at each end. Necessity is the mother of invention."

Mr Deroussent said the aim of the book is not to get prisoners to supplement or replace their official diet - which is generally adequate - but to treat cooking as a constructive and therapeutic recreation.

He added: "Cooking is highly important in the everyday life of prisons. It helps people to come together and dispel their anxieties. It allows prisoners to dream, to escape a little."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk