How a Culinary Arts Program Helps Prison Inmates Build Life Skills
Late night and talk show hosts are known to occasionally take their shows on the road, traveling to cities around the country for week-long stays. Earlier this week Comedy Central kicked off its The Daily Show Undesked Chicago 2017, which sees host Trevor Noah and his entire team of correspondents traversing around the windy city, turning up the Chicago-inspired jokes and turning over the city's various rocks, ultimately challenging or reinforcing perceptions of Chicago's image.
One of those rocks involved a visit to the country's largest prison, Cook County Jail, which sits on 96 acres and, according to the jail's website, "averages a daily population of 9,000." In a short segment, Daily Show correspondent Ronny Chieng criticized the hype around Chicago's famous "deep dish" pizza (at one point literally kicking pizzas) before taking viewers inside the walls and kitchens of the large jail.
There Chieng dug his heels in over Chicago not having any "delicious, normal pizza" before interviewing Sheriff Tom Dart and inmates about Recipe for Change, a rehabilitation strategy that combines culinary skills with life skills. The gourmet pizza-making program was started four years ago and receives volunteer help from Chicago chef Bruno Abate. Like Chieng, Abate harbors a distaste for Chicago's "brick" crusted pizza, seemingly as do the inmates, who opted not learn how to make deep-dish, but a more traditional style instead.
Participants say that Recipe for Change is an extremely popular program that teaches them how to eat better, work on a team, and be a leader. Chef Abate believes it is a way to "open your mind... give you hope, give you self-esteem, give you dignity." The five-minute segment is both informative and moving, and—in true Daily Show fashion—ends on a dramatically hilarious note.