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The catering and hospitality sector in Bristol

  •  Head chef salary (July 2019) in Bristol: £32,030.77 a year / £15.26 per hour
  •  Sous chef salary (July 2019) in Bristol: £24,812.86 a year / £11.95 per hour
  • Chef de partie salary (July 2019) in Bristol: £22,073.42 a year / £11.93 per hour

From Brunel to Banksy, Bristol has a long history of being industrious, innovative and leftfield. It’s hardly a surprise, then, that the city’s burgeoning bar and restaurant scene displays these traits.

With cultural diversity, strong support for sustainably-sourced food and local pride in independent food businesses, Bristol’s culinary climate has morphed into something rather special. Outside of London, few cities in the UK can compete, and Bristol’s five Michelin-star restaurants are a testament to the influence the city is having on the British food scene. And as for drink, you’ll find everything from high-end cocktail bars to cosy speakeasies – as well as some of the best cider in the country.

For catering and hospitality workers moving to the city, there are few places in the West of England that provide so many great opportunities for career growth. Whether you’re a junior sous chef with a great eye for detail, an experienced chef heading up a kitchen team, or a part-time barista supplementing your studies, there’s never been a better time to work in catering and hospitality in Bristol.

In our sector, wages in Bristol are some of the most competitive outside the capital. According to our latest data, a head chef in Bristol can expect to take home about £32,000 a year, which is more than other up-and-coming food cities such as Birmingham or Liverpool. Meanwhile, a commis chef can earn up to £19,500 – above the national average.

Great wages are one thing, but it’s also important to have professional development opportunities. Thankfully, Bristol has you covered there, too. City of Bristol College provides a Chef Apprenticeship course, while various cookery classes can be found via the Bristol Food Network website. If you work for one of Blue Arrow’s catering employers, you can also join a Blue Arrow Apprenticeship programme.

Bristol is booming. In 2018, more than 50 new venues opened across the city, from authentic Caribbean eateries to cult burger joints. And with millennials and Generation Zers flocking to the city, the Bristolian food and drink scene is set to soar to stratospheric levels.

Latest Hospitality and Catering Jobs in Bristol

Cost of living in Bristol

  • Average monthly rent in Bristol: £650-£1,400
  • Monthly travel pass: £66 (all forms of public transport)
  • Meal for two in a mid-range restaurant: £50

Though cheaper than London, the recent waves of young professionals migrating to Bristol have caused rents to rise in recent years. An average 1-bedroom apartment just outside of Bristol city centre costs around £695.65 per month to rent, while a high-end 3-bedroom city centre apartment will set you back £1,458.70.

Public transport in Bristol has long had a bad reputation. However, the introduction of the MetroBus rapid transit system (rolled out in stages during 2018 and 2019) has substantially improved navigability in the city -- offering faster, more frequent and more reliable services for commuters. A single journey costs £2. Aside from buses, Bristol Temple Meads station is an important rail hub for the city and surrounding region, with regular trains to London, Cardiff, Birmingham and South West England.

Of course, it’s important for anyone moving to a new city to get acquainted with local food costs. Supermarkets in Bristol sell food and drink at the same prices you’d expect anywhere else in the country. Eating out at a restaurant also represents decent value for money. A meal for one at an inexpensive restaurant costs around £15, while a three-course meal for two in a mid-range eatery will set you back around £50.

Council tax in Bristol depends on a number of factors, including the area you live and the value of the property you buy or rent. The cheapest tax band for residents is £1,321.42 while the priciest properties will set you back £3,964.22 a year.

Find out how much you can earn in Bristol

Bars, kitchens and restaurants in Bristol

With five Michelin-star restaurants, Bristol boasts more stars than any British city outside of the capital.

Headed up by chef Josh Eggleton, The Pony and Trap was awarded its Michelin star in 2011 and crowned the best pub in Bristol by the National Pub and Bar Awards in 2018. Set within a renovated inn, the restaurant’s acclaimed tasting menu uses only the highest quality local produce and is a huge hit with food critics.

Wilks, based in Redland, is another Michelin recipient that champions local produce. It serves up mouthwatering, contemporary dishes including favourites such as salt marsh lamb saddle, as well as lemon leaf pannacotta made with lemon jelly, creme fraiche and wild Madagascan pepper sorbet.

The other three Michelin-star eateries in Bristol are George Livesey’s Bulrush, which took over from a former greengrocers on Cotham Road South and rather aptly serves up seasonal British fare; the family-run Casamia, which features award-winning chef Pedro Sanchez-Iglesias and offers an upscale menu of refined British dishes inspired by all five senses; and Paco Tapas, a hearty tapas restaurant next door to Casamia which also features the inimitable Sanchez-Iglesias in the kitchen.

Though not yet recognised by Michelin, a host of other establishments in the city star in their own right.

Bellita is a gorgeous little bar that takes a relaxed approach to food. At The Mayflower, customers can indulge in tasty, authentic Chinese food. Tapas, of course, is huge in the city, with Bravasand Pata Negra both following Paco Tapas’ lead and bringing delicious Iberian food to Bristolian foodies.

Other foodie favourites include Rosemarino, an award-winning Italian restaurant in Clifton that’s ideal for a spot of brunch or a romantic late-night dinner for two; and Thali Cafe, which has evolved from a humble food truck at Glastonbury to a multi-branch gold standard for Indian food in Bristol; and Corn Street’s basement restaurant, The Ox, which serves up delicious local produce at affordable prices. Little wonder that Bristol continues to attract diners from far afield.

Baristas and bartenders will be pleased to hear that the coffee and bar scenes in Bristol are also huge. When it comes to best coffee, Spicer and Cole in Clifton Village and Hart’s Bakery at Temple Meads are two favourites among customers and industry professionals alike. And for lovers of ambient cocktail bars, the suave, velvet-clad sophistication of The Milk Thistleand the Tiki-themed quirkiness of Lola Lo Bristol are hard to match.

From kitchen porters to bar managers, and everyone in between, Bristol is simply one of the most attractive locations for ambitious catering and hospitality professionals in the UK.

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Where to find Blue Arrow in Bristol

Blue Arrow Bristol
Ground Floor
21 Prince Street

Tel: 0117 9299 449

Branch Opening Times
Monday - Friday: 7:30am - 5:30pm

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