Southern chef is promoting mental health

She was raped, married at 16, and dealing with depression and racism. Then this chef discovered cooking as a means to help herself and others.

Her lifelong dreams have become a delicious reality

This woman cooked her way through the Civil Rights movement, child marriage and depression. Decades before opening Martha’s Place in Montgomery, Alabama, Hawkins was married on her 16th birthday. Hawkins is candid about her bouts with depression and thoughts of suicide to encourage others with these experiences to seek help. Hawkins volunteered to help pack lunches for the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965. After she tried to commit suicide when she was in her 20s, she got a second chance at life.

Family and Food

“It’s something we could eat every day. You haven’t had anything unless you’ve eaten fried chicken. My passion is helping people, giving people a second chance because I got one, you know, and I think everybody needs a second chance to be able to discover who they are. At that particular time, it was a custom if you get pregnant and the guy wanted to marry you, you got married, you know. Not because it was love, or this, or that. But you know it happened. Here I was being a parent. Here I was being a wife. What did I know about either one of them? Nothing. I dropped out of school when I was in 10th grade. So, hey, that's played a part on me mentally because I've never felt good about me because I felt like I lost so many opportunities and so many chances,” Martha Hawkins, Restaurant owner tells Brut.

Martha’s biography

With some of her popular recipes having been released and soon she will be releasing more cookbooks. A frozen food line is also in play. Martha also often hires those no one else will hire because she believes in second chances. Over 30 years since opening her restaurant, Hawkins now has 35 employees.