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London often gets a bad rep in the press. It’s either too expensive or not cool enough. Or people are leaving the city in droves. But London remains one of the most exciting places to live and work, especially for those in the catering and hospitality sector. With some of the best bars, restaurants and coffee shops in the world, it’s the place where the most talented people shine.
Though living costs in London remain expensive, the signs are positive. London’s job creation outstrips the rest of the UK -- over 35% of all new jobs were created in the capital between 2007-2017. Whilst our most recent data also provides positive trends, especially for chefs. A chef can expect to earn, on average £26,111, whilst an executive head chef can earn upwards of £47,000.
Demand for hospitality and catering staff in London is on the rise. The Centre for London think tank revealed that 20,000 chefs are leaving the profession each year. For some, this can seem like a scary statistic. But what it provides is an opportunity -- especially for those talented enough to make the London culinary scene their own. With thousands of events throughout the year, there are plenty of opportunities for highly-paid seasonal work too.
To make it in London in hospitality and catering, you need to be good. So it’s important to make sure you have the right skills to succeed. From the Chef Academy London to Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School, you really get to work with the best to develop your trade in the city. And if you work for a Blue Arrow catering employer, you can also access our class-leading Apprenticeships.
Of course, working in London, whether as a chef, bar staff, or barista, you get to work and learn from the very best. Almost every chef worth their salt has at some point worked at a London restaurant. This is the place for the winners. If you’re willing to put in the practice, London is the city that could drive your culinary career to limitless success.
London is not a city for everyone. It’s busy, it’s thriving and it’s not the cheapest. But if you’re an ambitious person wanting to make your mark in hospitality and catering, this is the city for you.
So here’s the thing, London is not the cheapest place to live in the UK. In fact, it’s pretty pricey. The main reason for this is the cost of rent. For a 1-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre, the average is around £1,225, whilst a family-sized 3-bedroom apartment in zone 1 can cost more than £3,000. Many people working in our industry often choose to flat share, however, which can vastly reduce monthly living costs.
Where London comes up trumps is its extensive public transport network. With 24-hour access to buses, trains and tubes, it’s an exceptionally accessible city. A zone 1-2 travelcard, which gives you access to all forms of transport within the inner reaches of London, costs £134.80. The further out of the city you live, the more expensive travel gets.
Whilst the rental costs in London are high, the cost of buying food, especially in supermarkets, isn’t. Eating out can be good value too, especially if you take in the city’s flourishing street food scene. You can get a decent meal in inexpensive restaurants for around £15, whilst a three-course meal for two in mid-range restaurants cost £50.
Another factor to consider when weighing up the cost of living in London is council tax. The price of which depends on which borough of London you call home, the size of the property and the value. To find out exactly how much council tax is likely to cost, reach out to your local London borough. Generally speaking, costs aren’t much more expensive than the rest of the country.
London has one of the most innovative and creative culinary scenes of any city, as many already know. Whether it’s high-end restaurants, pop-up cafes, craft beer brewery taps or boutique coffee shops, London has it all. Whatever your specialism and whatever your long-term goals, this is the city where you can thrive. Even in the public sector, there are exciting opportunities to be grasped -- in hospitals, universities and colleges.
Though it’s impossible to name the best restaurants, here are a few highlights that will whet the appetite of any chef. The lavish avant-garde food served up at Cub in Hoxton is so experimental even the most experienced chef will learn a thing or two. Meanwhile, the seven-dish menu at Nest in Hackney will show just what’s possible with a small, local menu. Whilst Oklava in Shoreditch rethinks Turkish cuisine, giving a lahmacun new life. Whatever your palette or specialism, London will have a menu that will make you think about cooking in new and exciting ways.
Whilst London is known for some of the best food the world has to offer, at heart, it’s a city built on bars and pubs. And for bar managers and craft beer aficionados, there’s no end to exceptional places to work and drink. Currently, there are more than 100 local breweries and over 3,800 bars and pubs, finding work in the one that’s right for you won’t be difficult.
The same goes for baristas. Coffee in London has had a bit of a renaissance over the past decade. And you don’t have to visit central London to grind the best beans. Mud in Tooting, South London, has a huge fanbase, as famous for its chilli jam as for its Ozone coffee beans, whilst Old Spike in Peckham will have you eating into pastel de natas before you’ve had chance to start the day with the cafe’s exceptional coffee.
Whatever your role in the catering and hospitality industry, if you want to cook, serve or grind the best food, drink and coffee the UK has to offer, London is the city.
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