This Meal Was Made in a Michigan Prison

Lakeland Correctional Facility has hosted a culinary arts program for 30 years, preparing inmates for Michigan’s growing service industry

Mark Kurlyandchik / Detroit Free Press

It was an eight course meal that Detroit Free Press restaurant critic Mark Kurlyandchik says could rival some of the best restaurants in the state.

And it was made in an unlikely place — the Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater, Michigan, roughly two hours west of Detroit.

Over the past three decades, Lakeland’s Food Technology program has trained inmates in every aspect of the culinary arts.

Like any other culinary school, inmates receive skills and certifications that can potentially land them work in Michigan’s growing service industry once released.

Mark Kurlyandchik / Detroit Free Press

“Projections for the state of Michigan show that in 10 years our industry will be short 40,000 workers,” says Michigan Restaurant Association COO Amanda Smith via the Free Press feature on Lakeland’s culinary program.

CultureShift’s Ryan Patrick Hooper talks with Kurlyandchik about the program.

You can read the full Free Press report here.

Click on the audio player above for the full conversation. 


  • Ryan Patrick Hooper
    Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host of "In the Groove" on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.