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The catering and hospitality sector in Cambridge

  • Head chef salary (August 2019) in Cambridge: £32,400 a year / £15.93 per hour
  • Sous chef salary (August 2019) in Cambridge: £27,600 a year / £13.27 per hour
  • Chef de partie salary (August 2019) in Cambridge: £22,100 a year / £10.80 per hour

It’s impossible to talk about Cambridge without mentioning its university, but there’s much more to this city than academic prowess. With thriving arts and culture, picture-postcard architecture, bustling street markets and bucolic waterways, few places in England are as charming as this city on the River Cam.

Cambridge is also home to a buzzing food and drink scene that gives other larger cities a run for their money. From vibrant street food trucks to Michelin-starred haute cuisine, Cambridge has enough to satisfy all tastes. And for talented catering and hospitality professionals looking for greener pastures, the choice has never been better.

With a record number of dining establishments open, wages in the city are competitive. A head chef can earn up to £32,000 a year, while a chef de partie earns around £22,000. For temporary workers, hourly rates are also strong the average barista in Cambridge earns over a pound more per hour than the national average of £8.52, for example.

For chefs looking to expand their culinary repertoire, a variety of upskilling opportunities are available in the Cambridge area. The Hospitality and Catering course at Cambridge Regional College, for example, provides state-of-the-art training and production kitchen for budding chefs to cut their culinary teeth. Alternatively, if you find work with one of Blue Arrow’s catering employers, you can join one of Blue Arrow’s Apprenticeship programmes.

According to Numbeo, the quality of life index score for Cambridge is very high. With decent wages, low crime rates and low pollution, as well as a flourishing local economy, it’s little wonder that ambitious catering and hospitality workers are flocking to this cultural hub in the East of England. Cambridge’s food and drink scene may have an illustrious past, but the future looks even brighter.

Cost of living in Cambridge

  • Average monthly rent in Cambridge: £750-£1,200
  • Monthly travel pass: £46.50 (all forms of public transport)
  • Meal for two in a mid-range restaurant: £50

Perhaps the one drawback to living in Cambridge is the cost of rent, which, thanks to the city’s popularity, is among the highest in the UK. An average 1-bedroom apartment in the suburbs costs around £820.45 per month to rent, while a high-end 3-bedroom apartment in the city centre will set you back £1,705 pcm. However, it’s still possible to find a decent one-bed for as low as £700 pcm, particularly in areas with a large student population.

Spacious, well pedestrianised and with good public infrastructure, Cambridge is easy to get around whatever the method of transport. Buses provide frequent and reliable services all across the city, while Cambridge railway station enables easy access to London (Liverpool Street station is only an hour and twenty minutes away) and the East of England. With picturesque pathways and routes along the river, Cambridge is also a cycle-friendly city for those who prefer to travel on two wheels.

As for food and drink, supermarkets in Cambridge sell produce at the same prices you’d find elsewhere in the country. Dining out also represents good value for money. A meal for one at an inexpensive eatery costs around £13, while a three-course meal for two in a mid-range restaurant can be enjoyed for around £50 not bad considering the quality of the food on offer.

Council tax in Cambridge depends on a number of factors, including the area you live as well as the value of the property you buy or rent. The cheapest tax band is £1,202 while the most expensive properties cost £3,606.01 a year.

Bars, kitchens and restaurants in Cambridge

When it comes to food and drink in Cambridge, the word that comes to mind is eclectic. From gourmet burgers and local brews to quaint cafes and welcoming bakeries, the sheer number of establishments belies the city’s modest size.

The people of Cambridge certainly know how to eat in style. Nestled alongside the River Cam, the two-Michelin-starred Midsummer House is, without doubt, the fanciest place to eat in Cambridge serving up first-class, French-inspired food that’s perfect for a big celebration. Equally pleasing plates — this time modern British — can be sampled at The Cock at Hemingford Grey, which was voted 'National Pub of the Year' by the Good Pub Guide 2019.

Centrally located, The Oak Bistro offers a menu full of rich flavours that can be enjoyed in a beautiful walled garden. Set within a Grade II-listed building, Pint Shop serves up delicious pub grub and a thirst-quenching selection of gins, whiskeys, wines and beers. And for lovers of street food, the diverse selection of traders serving up their fare at foodPark is definitely worth a punt (Guerrilla Kitchen’s steamed bao buns have become something of an institution among the hipster crowd).

Another thing that Cambridge excels at is gastropubs. The Anchor Pub is a go-to for locals and students alike, offering nourishing pub food, great beer and a lovely riverside drinking spot. Red Lion at Grantchester is another favourite of those in the know — despite being a fair walk up the river, the hearty best-of-British menu and rustic decor make the journey worthwhile. Other must-visits in the city include The Petersfield, The Clarendon Arms, and the student-favourite, The Punter — all of which provide top-notch Sunday roasts.

Baristas will be pleased to know that Cambridge also has a thriving cafe culture, with many coffee shops, tea rooms and independent roasteries finding a home down the side streets running off Market Square. Open since 1921, Fitzbillies is well known across the city for its famous cakes and Chelsea buns, while the hipster coffee upstart Espresso Library is quietly making a name for itself. Also celebrated is The Orchard Tea Garden, the delightful Grantchester cafe that once hosted luminaries such as Alan Turing, Virginia Woolf, Stephen Hawking and Prince Charles.

Finally, Cambridge’s many university campuses have a number of kitchen opportunities, as do the various hospitals and hotels dotted around town. And thanks to the city’s status as a hub of academic activity, many of its conference halls and lecture theatres require catering throughout the year — providing ample nourishment for the bright minds of Silicon Fen.

Find Blue Arrow in Cambridge

For more information on our Cambridge branch, click here 

Blue Arrow Cambridge
40 St Andrews Street
Tel: 01223 323 272

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

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