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The catering and hospitality sector in Exeter

  • Head chef salary (September 2019) in Exeter: £34,042.56 a year / £16.37 per hour
  • Sous chef salary (September 2019) in Exeter: £27,429.92 a year / £13.19 per hour
  • Chef de partie salary (September 2019) in Exeter: £22,632.81 a year / £10.88 per hour

The vibrant, attractive city of Exeter is steeped in history. Founded by the Romans two millennia ago, Exeter became a major religious centre during the medieval and Tudor periods. Now, the county town of Devon has evolved into a centre for modern business and tourism in the South West of England.

Thankfully, much of the city’s illustrious past is still around. Exeter Guildhall is the oldest civic building in Britain, with certain sections dating as far back as 1160. Built in 1769, the Royal Clarence Hotel is the oldest hotel in Britain and has some parts that date back to the 1500s.

Historical visitor attractions include the imposing Roman wall, subterranean Underground Passages, awe-inspiring cathedral and picturesque Quayside. The award-winning Royal Albert Memorial Museum is also an ideal place to explore the city’s 2,000-year history on a rare rainy day.

Exeter is also a hub for academic excellence. The University of Exeter is regularly voted as one of the UK’s top ten universities, with famous alumni including JK Rowling, Will Young, Caroline Lewis and Rhod Gilbert.

Other notable individuals with roots in Exeter include the late, great comedian Tommy Cooper, singer-songwriter and actress Joss Stone, and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin.

Exeter also hosts many festivals, spanning a range of interests. From the Exeter Film Festival to the Exeter Food and Drink Festival, the city’s festival itinerary provides plenty of seasonal work for catering and hospitality professionals.

The food and drink scene is certainly in a good place. In 2017, Exeter City Council said there was a “food and drink revolution” underway in the city, and with new eateries opening up every year, it’s hard to argue with that claim. Exeter has something to suit all tastes — whether it’s an evening out at a two Michelin-starred restaurant or sampling the earthy delights of Exeter Farmer’s Market on a Tuesday afternoon.

Wages are also highly competitive. According to the most up-to-date Blue Arrow data, the average head chef in Exeter can expect to take home up to £30,000 a year, while a sous chef earns around £26,800. And with unemployment in Exeter falling comfortably below the national month-on-month average, you’ll be stepping into one of the best employment markets around.

For catering and hospitality professionals looking to up their game, the Exeter area has many opportunities for training and development. If you find work with a Blue Arrow employer, you can also upskill with one of our Blue Arrow Apprenticeships.

Find out how much you can earn in Exeter

Cost of living in Exeter

  • Average monthly rent in Exeter: £550-£1,200
  • Monthly travel pass: £59.52 (all forms of public transport)
  • Meal for two in a mid-range restaurant: £45

Rental prices in Exeter are surprisingly affordable — substantially less than Bristol. An average 1-bedroom apartment outside of Exeter city centre will set you back £572 per month, while a 3-bedroom city centre apartment costs around £978.

Exeter’s excellent road, rail and air links make the rest of the country easily accessible. By road, the M5 connects it to Bristol and beyond while the A30 follows the Cornwall peninsula all the way to Land’s End. By rail, Exeter St David’s railway station connects the city to the bulk of the country, from London Paddington to Glasgow Central. Meanwhile, the small but handy Exeter Airport provides flight to major UK cities as well as European destinations such as Alicante and Amsterdam.

In the city itself, an extensive bus network connects the city centre with the suburbs and outlying villages, as well as to nearby towns such as Exmouth, Dartmouth, Sidmouth and Lyme Regis.

Supermarkets in Exeter sell food and drink at the same prices you’d expect anywhere else in the country while dining out at a restaurant also represents similarly decent value for money. A meal for one at an inexpensive eatery costs around £12.50, while a three-course meal for two people in a mid-range restaurant will set you back around £45.

The amount you’ll pay for council tax in Exeter depends on a number of variables, including the parish and value of the property. The cheapest council tax band is £1225.43, while the most expensive costs £3676.28.

Bars, kitchens and restaurants in Exeter

Thanks to its location in South Devon, Exeter is surrounded by fertile farmland and rich seas that produce an abundance of fantastic fresh local produce. Over time, this has led to a thriving gastronomic scene in the city, with food and drink options ranging from classy fine dining to independent cocktail bars.

The recently refurbished Karma provides a combination of traditional and experimental Asian dishes in a relaxing atmosphere. Set in a 19th-century former workshop, the smart, family-run Harry’s Restaurant has proven a perennial favourite among the city’s student population thanks to its innovative spin on local delicious ingredients from nearby suppliers. Equally historic, The Conservatory Restaurant is on the site of a Tudor merchant’s house, with a menu that celebrates the best of modern European cuisine.

Pasha is an unfussy, family-run Turkish restaurant that serves authentic Anatolian chargrilled dishes as well as other Mediterranean favourites, with wines from Turkish vineyards that are little known in the UK. The husband-and-wife team at Angela’s Restaurant take great pride in sourcing local meat and fish, creating an intimate fine dining hotspot that’s popular with couples and families. Other favourites include Lloyd’s Kitchen (trendy modern British), Al-Farid (Moroccan), On the Waterfront (a Quayside restaurant and pub), and Herbies (vegetarian/vegan).

With countless traditional boozers and a number of up-and-coming microbreweries, beer aficionados will love this city. If pubs are what you’re looking for, this Devon Life list of the eight best pubs in Exeter, picks out the must-visits from the city’s dozens of fantastic watering holes.

Aside from independent restaurants and gastropubs, the city centre of Exeter is home to a number of national and international chain restaurants. These include Zizzi, Las Iguanas, Bill’s, Cote Brasserie, Nando’s and Pizza Express. For a more laid-back environment, there are also plenty of cafes, bakeries and tea rooms dotted around town. For vibrancy, colour and all-round good vibes, The Glorious Art House is the place to be. For coffee and cake in an historic cloister setting, look no further than Cathedral Cafe.

Catering and hospitality work can also be found in the town’s primary schools, secondary schools and special schools, as well as in its hotels, hospitals and care homes. The university is also a major employer, while temporary work can be picked up in multi-purpose venues such as Exeter Corn Exchange, Exeter Phoenix and the splendid Exeter Castle. Football fans can also find a Saturday job at the 6,700-capacity St James Park, home of Exeter City Football Club.

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Where to find Blue Arrow in Exeter

Blue Arrow Exeter
Ground Floor
11-15 Dix's Field

Tel: 01392 424 733

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

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