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The catering and hospitality sector in Aberdeen

  • Head chef salary (November 2019) in Aberdeen: £31,034.56 a year / £14.92 per hour
  • Sous chef salary (November 2019) in Aberdeen: £26,915 a year / £12.94 per hour
  • Chef de partie salary (November 2019) in Aberdeen: £21,453.33 a year / £10.31 per hour

Nicknamed “the Granite City” for its iconic, locally quarried greystone buildings, Aberdeen is a major regional hub in the northeast of Scotland.

The third-largest city in Scotland and one of the most liveable cities in the UK, this pioneering and enterprising place has grown prosperous in recent decades thanks to its huge offshore oil reserves; kickstarting a boom in a range of other industries — from business to hospitality and catering.

Aberdeen’s location makes it a great place for lovers of the great outdoors. The awe-inspiring Cairngorms National Park is less than an hour’s drive from the city. Even Aberdeen itself offers tranquillity, with a quarter of the city’s land being dedicated to parks and gardens.

It’s also a young city. The historic University of Aberdeen — founded way back in 1495 — is the best in Scotland for engineering, land & property management and creative writing, and it’s also home to a vibrant student population of 14,000.

It may be a cliche, but the city truly is rich in culture and sport. Museums, galleries, theatres, festivals — you name it, Aberdeen probably has it. Located to the north of the city, Old Aberdeen is like a time capsule, with its many historic buildings (some of which have been converted into restaurants) dating back hundreds of years. Aberdeen FC, based at the 20,000-capacity Pittodrie, is one of the most famous football clubs in Scotland. Meanwhile, the city’s flourishing nightlife scene is one of only two in Scotland to receive a prestigious Purple Flag award.

As for food and drink, few places in Britain have such a longstanding heritage to build on. With miles of quality arable land and a 165-mile stretch of coastline, Aberdeenshire is filled with culinary delights — from some of the freshest salmon and trout on Earth to mouthwatering venison and game.

The county is also home to the world-famous Aberdeen Angus beef; Speyside single malt Scotch whiskies (including the two best-selling single malt whiskies in the world, The Glenlivet and Glenfiddich); Dean’s Shortbread; and, more recently, the craft beer upstarts Brewdog.

No wonder, then, that a thriving dining scene has sprung up around the city. Hospitality and catering is a major employer — excluding the whisky sector, the region contributes an estimated 20% of Scotland’s food and drink industry output. Wages, therefore, are among the highest in Scotland. While the average head chef in Aberdeen, for example, earns around £31,000, it’s possible for a head chef to earn as much as £50,000 to £70,000.

For chefs of all levels looking to upskill, Aberdeen and the wider Aberdeenshire region is home to a number of training opportunities. Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) offers a Hospitality & Cookery course, while NobleProg offers courses from the centrally located Berry Street Centre. Alternatively, if you find work with a Blue Arrow employer, you may be able to join a Blue Arrow Apprenticeship programme.

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Latest Chef Jobs in Aberdeen


Cost of living in Aberdeen

  • Average monthly rent in Aberdeen: £500-£1,500
  • Monthly travel pass: £50.22 (all forms of public transport)
  • Meal for two in a mid-range restaurant: £50

Despite boasting a high quality of life and a strong local economy, Aberdeen housing prices are relatively affordable for most budgets. To give a sense of the rental market, an average 1-bedroom apartment in the suburbs costs around £590 per month to rent, while a 3-bedroom city centre apartment costs £1,047.

Aberdeen is fairly isolated up in the northeast corner of Britain, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at its transport links. Aberdeen railway station is connected to all other major Scottish cities by Abellio ScotRail, while high-speed inter-city services connect Aberdeen to London via Edinburgh in just over seven hours on the East Coast Main Line. Aberdeen Airport (incidentally the busiest helicopter terminal in the world) offers commercial flights to London Heathrow, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, as well as Manchester, Frankfurt and Amsterdam airports.

Getting around the city and surrounding towns and villages is also easy thanks to an efficient bus service. As a little extra treat, the city always has some historic transport infrastructure to marvel at, including the Bridge of Dee and Brig o’ Balgownie.

Supermarkets in Aberdeen sell food and drink at the same prices you’d expect anywhere else in the country. It’s also easy to eat out without spending a small fortune. A meal for one at a cheap restaurant costs around £15, while a three-course meal for two in a mid-range restaurant usually costs around £50.

Council tax in Aberdeen is calculated based on the area you live in, as well as the value of the property. The cheapest tax band is £1179.05 while the most expensive is £4133.09. More information about council tax bands can be found here.

Bars, kitchens and restaurants in Aberdeen

Chefs, Baristas, and Bartenders will love this city. From fine dining bistros to rural gastropubs and boisterous boozers, Aberdeen and the wider region has it all.

At The Chester Hotel is IX Restaurant, a two-time AA Rosette-winning theatre kitchen headed up by executive chef Kevin Dalgleish. Serving up the best local produce, including North Sea monkfish and Dornoch lamb, it’s a great place for a celebratory meal or an aspiring chef to learn the ropes. Also set in a hotel — in this case, the five-star Marcliffe Hotel and Spa — is Conservatory Restaurant, an elegant eatery that again specialises in local produce.

Fine dining is also the order of the day at contemporary, stylish The Silver Darling, which is set in a former customs house that specialises in Scottish and English seafood. Located in the heart of Aberdeen’s bustling harbour, few places offer dinner with such a view. The best of local food culture can also be sampled at casual dining hotspots, including Moonfish Cafe, The Ashvale and the foodie favourite, Formatine’s. Meanwhile, Buchanan’s Bistro, Foodstory and the fully vegan Bonobo Cafe all fly the flag for a greener, more sustainable way to eat. Whether it’s a full Scottish breakfast or a chai latte, Aberdeen’s scene will satisfy your tastes.

If hearty British fare isn’t your thing, there’s no need to worry. Everyone loves a family-run Italian trattoria, and the cosy Rustico does not disappoint with its amazing Sicilian/Calabrian dishes, matching wine and delicious desserts. Similarly intimate, Yatai Izakaya is a cute little restaurant that seamlessly combines modern Japanese cooking with Aberdeenshire ingredients. Fancy some Cajun BBQ? Maggie’s Grill has you covered. Itching for Mexican quesadillas? Topolobamba is worth a visit. Dying for a curry? Shri Beema’s is a must.

As for the drinks scene, you’ll be spoilt for choice with hundreds of bars and pubs that serve up traditional tipples along with modern flavour fusions. Thanks to the influence of Brewdog and the dozens of Speyside distilleries, craft beer and whisky are both huge in the city. Specialised wine, gin and cocktail bars are also rapidly growing in popularity. Simply put, bartenders and mixologists will love this place. Here’s a list of the best bars and pubs in Aberdeen from TripAdvisor.

Catering and hospitality work is also available in the city’s primary and secondary schools, as well as in its hotels, hospitals and care homes. Music fans can find bar work in venues such as The Cellar, Krakatoa and Music Hall, while football fans can pick up a Saturday catering job at Pittodrie. The university is also a major catering employer.

For talented catering and hospitality professionals — regardless of experience or role Aberdeen is a fantastic place to take the next step in your career.

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Where to find Blue Arrow in Aberdeen

Blue Arrow Aberdeen
2nd Floor, Amicable House
492 Union Street 
AB10 1TS

Tel: 01224 621 200

Branch Opening Times
Monday - Friday: 8:00am - 5:30pm

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