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Roberta Hall-McCarron is the co-founder and chef of Edinburgh restaurants The Little Chartroom and Eleanore. Alongside her husband Shaun, the pair have turned these two unassuming sites into two of Edinburgh, and Scotland's, very best restaurants, serving innovative plates that make the most of incredible Scottish produce.
Hall-McCarron's career started at home - she was a keen baker and cook from an early age, and she took inspiration from her family who also loved food. 'My parents loved going out for dinner and I remember the first time they took me out for a fancy dinner, it really resonates in my mind!' she says. 'A lot of our holidays were on a boat on the west coast and we used to barbecue on the boat - really casual food but the best Scottish seafood you can get. It was just these little things that were always there.'
A work experience placement at James Thomson's The Tower restaurant was what first opened her eyes to cooking as a career, and Roberta never looked back - she worked part time at the restaurant until she left school, then went straight into full time kitchen work in Scotland and then Dubai, where she spent 18 months at the Burj Al-Arab.
Roberta returned to Scotland temporarily with plans to keep travelling, but life had different plans; she took a job at The Kitchin, and spent the next nine and a half years with Tom Kitchin's restaurant group, at The Kitchin and then at Castle Terrace with head chef Dominic Jack. She says of Tom Kitchin: 'His approach, his drive and his passion were things I hadn’t experienced before. It was amazing. It was a really hard place to work, not going to lie. It really opened my eyes, and that was a massive part of my career.'
It was a friend working in restaurant real estate that first alerted Roberta and Shaun to an available site in Leith - the pair went to see it and instantly knew it was the right place for their own restaurant. Just months later, The Little Chartroom was born - a small, buzzy space where Roberta and Shaun made up two thirds of the entire staff. The restaurant was an instant hit and received numerous awards in its first year. The pair followed up a few years later with a second site, Eleanore, born out of a food truck that they ran during COVID. Eleanore took over the original Little Chartroom space, serving a more relaxed menu in the smaller space, whilst The Little Chartroom moved out to a larger site in Bonnington.
Roberta was nominated for the AYALA Female Chef of the Year Award in 2023 - you can read our interview with Roberta Hall-McCarron here.