Chef Watch – Roberta Hall, The Little Chartroom
Featuring Roberta Hall, chef and co-owner of The Little Chartroom, Edinburgh and finalist in the Great British Menu
How long have you been a chef?
I have been a chef for 20 years.
Why did you become a chef?
I did one week’s work experience at The Tower Restaurant when I was 16 and I fell in love with cooking and the buzz of a busy kitchen environment.
Grouse. The Glorious 12th is definitely my favourite day in the cooking calendar. I love the excitement of getting that first grouse of season and serving it to my guests. I always make a point of going to a restaurant that serves grouse early in the season to enjoy one myself.
Favourite or signature dish
As the menu at the restaurant is so small we tend to change it quite regularly so I don’t have any signature dishes but a favourite of mine recently would have to be a beef dish we had on the menu. It was flat-iron steak with braised brisket coated in our homemade barbecue sauce and wild garlic. On the side there was a ragout of white beans, garlic and barbecued ox heart.
Favourite kitchen tool or equipment (apart from sharp knives)
I have a cold smoker that get used regularly. I love to smoke fish, meat, remoulades and mayonnaises. I think smoke can bring another interesting flavour to a dish which I really enjoy.
Angela Hartnett. I really like her style of food and I’m a big fan of the way she runs her businesses. She ate in the restaurant last year, which was amazing to get to cook for her.
Any food you can’t/won’t eat
I will eat pretty much anything but I would usually try to avoid fennel if given the option.
Comfort food/guilty secret
Fried egg & bacon sandwich.
Stupidest customer or kitchen experience
I once had a gentleman who ordered 8-hour braised beef cheeks. He sent them back to the kitchen and asked for them to be well-done, I had to nuke them until they were completely crispy.
Roberta and her husband Shaun opened The Little Chartroom in 2018. Since then it has won numerous awards, including Best Newcomer 2019 at the Edinburgh Restaurant Awards. It has attracted rave reviews from the likes of Grace Dent, Marina O’Loughlin and, most importantly, the Tom Eats! column. Roberta herself was voted Young British Foodie Chef of the Year in 2018, and Food & Travel Magazine’s Emerging Chef of the Year 2019. In 2020 she won the Scottish heat of the Great British Menu. In the final she wowed the judges and survived a heart attack when Susan Calman nearly dropped her dessert. She was narrowly pipped to the banquet by some boys who cheated by having 2 Michelin Stars.
The Little Chartroom
30 – 31 Albert Place, Edinburgh EH7 5HN
0131 556 6600 www.thelittlechartroom.com
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As usual an interesting and informative read. Recently built myself a cold smoker and really enjoying the results. Stay safe
Thanks, Callum. Lesley is the woodworker in our family. Do you have a blueprint she could follow?