Martin Hadden - Village People feature

Martin Hadden, Head Chef, Ockenden Manor

Martin Hadden, Head Chef, Ockenden Manor

The Good Life is undoubtedly one of Britain’s best loved sitcoms and millions of viewers have been entertained by Tom and Barbara Good’s efforts to become self-sufficient.

But for Lindfield’s Martin Hadden, the Good Lie became real life, when his parents left London to bring up their sons in the country.

With the whole family mucking in - growing and harvesting crops, rearing animals, and enjoying the freshest and healthiest home cooking, it’s hardly surprising that the boys grew up with a passion for food.

And for Martin, that passion turned into a career as a chef and a string of Michelin stars!

Now head chef for the Historic Sussex Hotels Group, Martin recalls how he learnt to carve a side of beef on the kitchen table, his delight at becoming a Roux Scholar and how he constantly strives to bake the perfect bread roll!

By Claire Cooper

“I was born in London, but in the 70s my parents decided to move to North Devon and become self-sufficient growing crops and rearing animals” said Martin, the second of four boys. “My brothers and I got a real understanding of where our food came from.”

With no farming experience, Martin’s parents learnt as they went along.

“I can remember my dad bringing in two sides of beef, putting them on the kitchen table and wondering how to go about carving them,” said Martin. “He got a book of instructions and we just got on with it.

“Looking back, I think I was lucky as a child to be exposed to the complete journey our meat takes, from rearing a calf to sitting down and eating it on a Sunday.”

As soon as he was old enough to start earning money, Martin picked up a Saturday job at his local butchers. “On my fist day, I was asked to drain the huge vat which used for boiling the hams,” said Martin. “It was a straightforward job as there was a tap at the bottom which released water into the drains.”

The full article can be found on page 32 of the December 2016 issue of Lindfield Life magazine