British prisoner’s Instagram account shows a gourmet life from inside the clink

Illustration for article titled British prisoner’s Instagram account shows a gourmet life from inside the clinkem/em
Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein, Kodiak Greenwood (Getty Images)

I spent a few days reporting from inside an Indiana prison a few years back for a story about what prisoners eat (and what they can’t eat). One of the many conclusions of my time spent inside Westville Correctional Facility was that we on the outside, for the most part, have access to any quantity of any food at any time. We have full freedom to eat and drink. But when that’s taken away from you inside a prison, and you’re left to pre-portioned, bland-tasting government meals twice a day, it can really mess with you physiologically and mentally.

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This doesn’t seem to be a problem for an anonymous Instagram user named @cheffing_hmp (whose accounts now seem to have been deleted). A number of U.K. outlets have reported that @cheffing_hmp, apparently an anonymous British inmate with a smuggled mobile phone, has amassed as many as 10,000 Instagram followers for his posts showing an incredible variety of food from inside the clink. There are pictures of fish and chips, roasted chicken, an assortment of sauces, salads with fresh-cut vegetables—in many ways, this guy is eating a more varied and healthier diet than us on the outside.

If we were to believe the veracity of this story, my next question is: how? The videos show raw whole chickens, and I don’t think I can shiv and microwave a chicken to roasted perfection. If this @cheffing_hmp guy is for real, he’s got a major culinary career ahead—once he’s out.

Kevin Pang was the founding editor of The Takeout, and director of the documentary For Grace.

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DISCUSSION

bkilburn
ArtistAtLarge

Compared to the rest of the civilized world, American prisons are major human rights violations.