Great British Menu 2021: who are the Scottish chefs in season 16, when does it start - and who are the judges?

Series 16 of BBC Two’s Great British Menu returns this week with three Scottish chefs in the line-up
Head chef and owner of The Little Chartroom Roberta Hall-McCarron has returned to BBC Two's Great British MenuHead chef and owner of The Little Chartroom Roberta Hall-McCarron has returned to BBC Two's Great British Menu
Head chef and owner of The Little Chartroom Roberta Hall-McCarron has returned to BBC Two's Great British Menu

BBC Two’s Great British Menu is back, with new chefs, new dishes and “groundbreaking inventions, making the unimaginable - edible”.

Series 16 will be presented by former judge and food journalist Andi Oliver, and judged by restaurateur Oliver Peyton, food critic Matthew Fort and chef, Rachel Khoo.

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The show will feature chefs from all across the UK, first competing in county heats before progressing to the final stages of the acclaimed competition.

Scotland is considered one county, with three chefs going head-to-head for a place in the next round. So, who are this year’s Scottish contestants? This is what you need to know.

How does the competition work?

The competition involved chefs from all over the UK, competing for the chance to cook one course of a four course banquet.

Contestants are divided into their home county, and compete against two others from their area.

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They cook across three days - serving up a starter, main, dessert and fish course - before the best chef goes through to the quarter finals.

The finalists then compete in elimination rounds, until the winner is determined.

Roberta Hall-McCarron, The Little Chartroom

Roberta Hall-McCarron is the proud owner and head chef of The Little Chartroom on Albert Place, Edinburgh.

She runs the business with her husband, Shaun, and the couple also own and run The Little Chartroom on The Prom in Portobello.

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In an interview with Scotsman Food and Drink, Hall-McCarron revealed that she grew up in a family which took pride in great British produce.

Her grandfather was the founder of the city’s Hall’s Butchers and she and her parents spent much of her childhood sailing in Scotland and eating quality seafood.

Edinburgh-born Roberta made the GBM finals in 2020, but has returned with a reignited fire in her belly.

Her culinary career began at the age of 16 when she took part in work experience at The Tower restaurant in Edinburgh.

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She then went on to work alongside Tom Kitchin at The Kitchin before joining Dominic Jack at Castle Terrace.

While studying at college in Glasgow, she worked at No. 16 restaurant and upon graduating, moved to Dubai for a dream job in the kitchens of the Burj Al Arab hotel.

Roberta's style of cooking is traditionally Scottish, influenced by French techniques, and her menu for the competition is inspired by Scotland’s local produce.

Stuart Ralston, Aizle and Noto

Seven years ago, Stuart Ralston opened modern Scottish restaurant Aizle, meaning a burning coal or spark in Scots.

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Aizle, located on Charlotte Square in Edinburgh, specialises in a six-course tasting menu and was voted the fifth best fine dining restaurant in the UK and first in Scotland in its opening year.

In 2019, Ralston set up Noto - focused on food for sharing - on Edinburgh’s Thistle Street. The eatery was recently awarded a Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide.

Noto is named after Bob Noto - an elderly man Ralston shared a flat with in New York.His father was also a chef, and his two brothers have followed suit. His older brother Scott is the chief executive of The Compass Group, which includes The Chophouse Restaurants, The White Horse, and Monteith - all located in Edinburgh.

Younger brother Calumn is also a chef, at The Chophouse in Bruntsfield, Edinburgh.

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Speaking to The Scotsman last year, Ralston explained that he’s lived in many different places, having moved around a lot with his family.

He is now a father of two boys, Sonny and Jesse, with his wife Krystal.

In the early stages of his career, Ralston trained at the then 3 AA Rosette restaurant, Roman Camp in Callander, under head chef Iain McNaught.

He then worked in other Scottish establishments, until he moved to the US in the 90s and worked under Scottish chef Gordon Ramsay in New York.

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Ralston is now one of Edinburgh’s best known chefs and is expected to deliver innovative, creative Scottish dining and cuisine throughout the competition.

Scott Smith grew up in rural Aberdeenshire, before he moved to Edinburgh and opened his first restaurant, Norn, in 2016.

The critically acclaimed restaurant performed well, but the couple decided to close Norn in 2018 and invest in a new location.

He is now the proud owner of the popular and Michelin recommended Fhior restaurant, on Broughton Street, Edinburgh.

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Smith opened the restaurant with his wife, Laura, and the following year, Fhior won Restaurant of the Year at the Edinburgh Restaurant Awards.

The pair have since invested in farmland just outside of the city, so he can grow and cook heritage Scottish vegetables for the restaurant.

Scott’s modern cooking revolves around Scottish produce including foraged and home-preserved ingredients.

When is the Great British Menu back on television?

The 16th series of GBM airs on BBC Two every Wednesday from 24 March, at 8pm.

You can watch all previous episodes and BBC iPlayer.