Lyon (AFP)

"Cooking is my new life": Melvin *, who participates with five other prisoners from Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes in an inter-prison culinary competition, plans to dedicate his professional future to his new passion.

After only a few weeks of training in detention, these six men - three from the prison of Puy-en-Velay (Haute-Loire), two from Moulins-Yzeure (Allier) and one from Bonneville (Haute-Savoie) failing to obtain a permission to leave for his binomial - raise nets of sea bream and cut peppers in brunoise.

Although free, Melvin, 30, was so eager to participate in this contest that he asked ... "to stay in prison".

"This competition is a chance to be seized" with the opportunity to be judged by big names in the gastronomy of Lyon as Jacotte Brazier, the granddaughter of the famous Mother Brazier, or the best worker of France Joseph Viola, believes this father who begins Monday, as soon as his freedom found, his training in CAP cooking.

The three teams had carte blanche for the starter, while ingredients were imposed on them for the dish and the dessert, namely sea bream accompanied by polenta and shellfish and a brioche lost with seasonal fruit.

"Here we have samurai vegetables," says chef Dominic Moreaud observing a detainee Puy cut a pepper.

This member of Toques blancs lyonnaises, at the head of a training center catering trades for public in difficulty, said "hope if possible bring one or two" of these inmates in his institution.

"Those who are there, they love cooking, we feel that there is commitment, greed and good seasonings," says Moreaud.

In the weeks leading up to the event, two-Michelin-starred Marseille chef Michel Portos had gone to the three running prisons to learn the basic skills of future candidates and provide them with advice.

Through this "Top Chief" of prisons, "the goal is to make the prison administration aware that training is needed," says Portos.

- Fight against recidivism -

A statement yet shared by the Interregional Directorate of Prison Services (DISP) and its partners such as the Region and Pôle Emploi. "An inmate who undergoes training has a 13% chance of having a job at the exit and therefore we reduce the risk of re-offending," says the head of vocational training at DISP, Damien Igonenc.

According to the director of the DISP Stéphane Scotto, "a thousand detainees per year, flow, in the region, receive vocational training", trades in tension such as catering, cleanliness and the building being particularly targeted.

Oualid, 34, has already found the place for the snack that he will go to Lyon with his wife when he leaves prison in a few months.

"This contest is a good experience, it's to do again but ... outside," notes the thirty.

Place to tasting. The plates, presented with care, parade under the compliments of the jury.

Jacotte Brazier praises the revisited mozzarella tomato from the Puy team. As for their brioche lost, it can be "sent directly to Christelle Brua", the head pastry of the Elysee, she judges.

"The best cooks are in prison!" Concludes Dominic Moreaud, admiring.

The prize of honor is finally awarded to the team of Moulins-Yzeure.

"We were all amazed by the level you came out with, there was the seasoning, the taste, the technique," enthuses Michel Portos at the time of proclaiming the results, while hailing the "work done daily by educators ".

Moreover, the starred chef slipped his mobile phone number to one of the competitors with the promise of helping him find work in the catering industry in Nice.

mb / ag / gold

* The name has been changed at the request of the interested party

© 2019 AFP