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The catering and hospitality sector in Ipswich

  • Head chef salary (September 2019) in Ipswich: £29,740 a year / £16.56 per hour
  • Sous chef salary (September 2019) in Ipswich: £26,800 a year / £13.31 per hour
  • Chef de partie salary (September 2019) in Ipswich £22,500 a year / £11.37 per hour

The gateway to East Anglia. The ancient county town of Suffolk. The hometown of Ed Sheeran.

Ipswich may not be the biggest nor the most famous town in the East of England, but it’s certainly one of the most intriguing. With a multicultural population, burgeoning festival scene, glistening waterfront, a host of independent shops, and a great food & drink scene, this maritime town on the River Orwell has an awful lot going for it.

Indeed, the town has picked up a number of gongs in the 21st century. In 2007, it was awarded the cleanest town award, in 2015 was rated as the third happiest place to live in the UK, and in 2017 was voted the seventh most desirable place to live and work in England by the Royal Mail. Perhaps it’s little wonder that over 3.5 million people visit each year.

Suffolk may not quite be as A-list as nearby Essex, but it’s got its fair share of glitz and glamour. Aside from the aforementioned ginger troubadour, a number of high-profile individuals have connections with Ipswich. Ralph Fiennes, Richard Ayoade, Sam Claflin, Delia Smith and June Brown (AKA Eastenders’ Dot Cotton) all grew up in the town, while Bill Nighy and Twiggy both have homes in the area.

Outside of Suffolk, the town is perhaps most well-known for its football team, Ipswich Town FC. Nicknamed the “Tractor Boys” to reflect the rural heritage of the county, the club became UEFA Cup champions in 1981 under the leadership of English football legend, Sir Bobby Robson. The club’s 30,300-capacity Portman Road is also a major source of seasonal employment for catering professionals.

Formed in 2006, one of the UK’s newest universities, the University of Suffolk, can be found on the waterfront. With 5,000 students, it’s a key catering and hospitality employer in the town. There are also a host of hotel kitchens, school canteens and multi-purpose venues in which catering and hospitality workers can earn their stripes.

According to the latest Blue Arrow data, the average head chef in Ipswich can expect to take home up to £30,000 a year, while a sous chef earns around £26,800 — slightly higher than nearby Norwich.

And for those looking to stay on top of their game and get ahead in the industry, Ipswich has many opportunities for training and development. A number of industry-recognised courses are available to chefs working in the area, including Catering & Hospitality courses at Suffolk New College. 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 Ipswich

Hospitality and Catering Jobs in Ipswich

Cost of living in Ipswich

  • Average monthly rent in Ipswich: £500-£1,000
  • Monthly travel pass: £50 (all forms of public transport)
  • Meal for two in a mid-range restaurant: £50

Despite being within commuting distance of both London and Norwich, housing prices in Ipswich are surprisingly affordable. An average 1-bedroom apartment outside of Ipswich town centre will set you back roughly £575 per month, while a high-end 3-bedroom city centre apartment costs around £1,050.

As the primary town of Suffolk, Ipswich is easy to get around. The town’s bus network provides cheap, regular travel across the city and surrounding villages, with some routes going to nearby destinations such as Norwich, Lowestoft and Bury St Edmunds. As for trains, regular services run from Ipswich railway station to London Liverpool Street, with a journey to the capital taking around an hour.

Of course, it’s important to get up to speed with local food costs when moving to a new city. Supermarkets in Ipswich sell food and drink at the same prices you’d expect anywhere else in the country while dining out at a restaurant also represents decent value for money. A meal for one at an inexpensive eatery costs around £14.50, while a three-course meal for two people in a mid-range restaurant will set you back around £50.

Council tax in Ipswich depends on a number of factors, including the catchment area and the value of the property. The cheapest tax band for residents is £1,244.70 while the priciest band is £3,734.10 a year.

Bars, kitchens and restaurants in Ipswich

Because Ipswich is a multicultural town, its well-established food culture is incredibly diverse and vibrant. An eclectic range of global cuisines can be sampled, from Caribbean to Chinese and British to Bengali. In fact, there are so many restaurant options that even the most passionate foodie will be hard-pressed to try all of them.

Situated on Colman Street, Alaturka is a traditional Turkish restaurant that scooped the award for the town’s best restaurant in 2018 thanks to its quality food, relaxing atmosphere and friendly staff. Trongs is a family-run Chinese that’s earned rave reviews for locals thanks to its popular seafood specials and retro decor. With fresh food, impeccable service and a mouthwatering menu, Takayama is the place to go for both Japanese and Korean cuisine.

Zaynab is slightly out of town but definitely worth the journey, with a range of delicious Indian flavours. Established in 1900, Mariners Restaurant is a classic brasserie set on a renovated, century-old boat with elegant, wood-lined interior and fantastic marina views. At Twenty5, on St Nicholas Street, is a rustic eatery serving up comfort food and pub grub. Located off the beaten track, the Vegetarian Red Lion exceeds expectations with its exquisite veggie pub fare. And we have to mention Aqua Eight, a stylish restaurant and bar that perfects the art of pan-Asian food.

Aside from independent restaurants and gastropubs, Ipswich town centre hosts many national and international chain restaurants, including Zizzi’s, ASK Italian, Prezzo, Wagamama, Cosy Club, Nando’s, Frankie and Benny’s and Pizza Express. Cafe culture is also thriving, with the town’s many delis and bistros providing a relaxing daytime working environment. Of these, Applaud Coffee and the waterfront’s Le Tour Cycle Cafe are arguably the cream of the crop.

Whether you’re an experienced head chef looking to head up a dedicated kitchen team or a catering assistant searching for seasonal work, Ipswich has plenty of catering and hospitality jobs.

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Where to find Blue Arrow in Ipswich

Blue Arrow Ipswich
1st Floor 
32 Princes Street

Tel: 01473 231 023

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

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