Martin-HaddenMartin Hadden, group executive chef for Historic Sussex Hotels.

Trained with Jacques & Alain Pic at the Pic Restaurant, Lyon

When I won the scholarship back in 1989 at the age of 19, I was working at a very respectable English 3 star, 3 Rosette Hotel in Devon – the Arundel Arms. I was quite happy there and enjoying the early days of my career, however I had started to hear about these restaurants that were being awarded accolades called Michelin stars. Curiosity grew and I began to research a little. The nearest ’Michelin starred’ restaurant to me was called Gidleigh Park Hotel, I wanted to work there but felt a little inexperienced to do so.

At about the same time a copy of the Caterer and Hotelkeeper found its way into the kitchen, I was thumbing through when I saw the entry form for the Scholarship. I had never entered a competition before but this was offering the opportunity of not working in a one star but a three Michelin starred restaurant…. and in France!

With the guidance of Michel Roux I chose to do my stage at Restaurant Pic in Valence with Jacques Pic:  An incredible experience, a complete explosion to me of new foods, tastes, techniques and qualities that have stayed with me ever since, as of course, has the great wisdom of the sadly now deceased Jacques Pic.

My experiences of the Scholarship certainly helped me a great deal in my career, and on my return to England took up a position in the kitchen at Gidleigh Park with Shaun Hill where I stayed for three happy years.