Chef Roberta Hall-McCarron's five kitchen must-haves

Good-quality ham, freshly baked bread and a good collection of spices can always be found in this chef's kitchen

Robert Hall-McCarron
'The KitchenAid has really won my heart over'

Roberta Hall-McCarron, the chef and owner of The Little Chartroom, a small neighbourhood bistro in Edinburgh, has built up such a reputation that her restaurant has been fully booked a month in advance since reopening after the first lockdown. “It has been so comforting to see my staff again and do what we do best, and to have people coming back in,” she says – customers that, since the Scottish central border closures were introduced, now enjoy takeaways from The Little Chartroom. “We’re focusing more on the food than ever before,” says Hall-McCarron, which means delicious deliveries of flat iron steak with garlic and parsley butter, direct to people’s doors. But what must-have treats does the chef seek out for herself after a long shift?

Fridge staple

“Smoked salmon pâté is a must-have in my fridge – I absolutely love it. When I’ve finished work particularly late and just need something to have with a bit of crusty bread, it does the job perfectly. I make my own a lot, but the M&S one is surprisingly good. I often go to that when I haven’t had the time to make it.” M&S smoked salmon pate, £1.80, Ocado.

Midnight snack

Credit: Ruta Lipskija / EyeEm

“Another favourite of mine is a big wedge of crusty baguette, some salty butter and a few slices of good-quality ham. When it comes to a late-night snack after work, it’s the simple stuff that hits the spot.”

Kitchen kit

“At the start of lockdown, I brought two things back from the restaurant to use at home; the KitchenAid mixer and the Thermomix. Though I love both, it’s the KitchenAid that has really won my heart – I use it for so many different things. So when we reopened the restaurant, the Thermomix went back, but the KitchenAid is still sitting in my kitchen at home. Mine is cherry red.” £399, kitchenaid.co.uk.

Local hero

“It’s funny how the pandemic has changed the way suppliers work now, with so many bakers and butchers previously only supplying restaurants, now accessible to the public. I use a great game supplier called Castle Game [castlegame.co.uk], which started supplying the public during lockdown. Twelve Triangles [Brunswick St, Edinburgh, twelvetriangles.co.uk] is our go-to bakery – we buy their sourdough for the restaurant, and I love picking up the pastries for breakfast.”

Store cupboard staples

“For home cooking, having a good collection of spices is key to getting really great flavours in your food. I use cumin and paprika in particular. I also always have a packet of dried apricots for adding to things – they add a lovely deep sweetness to dishes.”