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The catering and hospitality sector in Swansea

  • Head chef salary (September 2019) in Swansea: £24,710 a year / £11.88 per hour
  • Sous chef salary (September 2019) in Swansea: £26,000 a year / £16.96 per hour
  • Chef de partie salary (September 2019) in Swansea: £22,360 a year / £12.33 per hour

The second-largest city in Wales, Swansea (known as Abertawe in Welsh) is something of a hidden gem. From the waterfront of Swansea to the Mumbles and all the way to the Gower Peninsula (the first place in Britain to be named an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), this area of South Wales is famed for its natural beauty. And as the home of Dylan Thomas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, it’s home to its fair share of cultural marvels, too.

Swansea Market, the largest indoor market in Wales, sits in the heart of the city centre. With over 100 traders selling an array of fresh local produce and knick-knacks, visitors will find just about everything they need — from high-end jewellery to tasty street food. Despite being bomb-damaged during the Blitz, it was rebuilt and has stood as a proud focal point for city traders and shopper ever since. It even had its very own four-part BBC documentary in 2013.

For most people, however, Swansea is perhaps most famous for its free-flowing football side, Swansea City FC, which graced the Premier League between 2011 and 2018. Currently playing in the second tier of the football pyramid, the Swans are hoping to bounce back to the big time with a little help from passionate supporters in their state-of-the-art base, Liberty Stadium.

In the past, this coastal city was a key centre of the copper-smelting industry, earning itself the nickname Copperopolis. Now, the biggest sectors in Swansea are public administration, education and health distribution, and hotels and restaurants — the last of which accounts for nearly a quarter of local jobs, which is great news for catering and hospitality professionals seeking a truly Welsh experience.

The rise of restaurants in Swansea is largely thanks to the area’s culinary tradition. Swansea is home to Welsh staples such as fresh cockles, laverbread and salt marsh lamb — all of which can be sourced from the estuary village of Penclawdd. Meanwhile, the city has long been a driving force of the British real ale renaissance, with a growing number of new microbreweries serving up tasty local craft beers (a particular favourite is Mumbles Brewery’s stout made with oysters).

According to the latest Blue Arrow data, a head chef can earn up to £25,000 annually, while a part-time chef de partie can expect to earn around £12.33 per hour. For chefs looking to expand their culinary repertoire in and around Swansea, opportunities such as the Professional Cookery Diploma at Gower College Swansea can help you upskill. If you find work with a Blue Arrow employer, you may also be able to enrol in a Blue Arrow Apprenticeship programme.

Cost of living in Swansea

  • Average monthly rent in Swansea: £600-£1,200
  • Monthly travel pass: £72 (all forms of public transport)
  • Meal for two in a mid-range restaurant: £45.50

In addition to all the other perks to life in Swansea, one of the main draws for catering and hospitality workers is the affordability of decent housing. A 1-bedroom apartment in the city centre costs around £630 per month to rent, while a cushy 3-bedroom house in the suburbs costs around £1,200 per month to rent. As far as value for money goes, few cities of Swansea’s size can match.

Thanks to a comprehensive bus and rail network, Swansea Bay and Gower is relatively easy to explore. Buses run regularly to many parts of the city and also cover the surrounding areas. Swansea’s main bus station is located in the city centre and provides easy access to the shops, beach, Marina and Grand Theatre.

By train, Swansea train station provides services to Cardiff Central, Bristol Temple Meads, London Paddington, Manchester Piccadilly, and Birmingham New Street, among others. To the west, trains run to Carmarthen, Pembroke Dock, Milford Haven and Fishguard.

For newcomers to the city, food and drink can be purchased at the same prices you’d expect in supermarkets anywhere else in the country. It’s also easy to dine out with spending a small fortune. A meal for one at a cheapish restaurant costs around £15, while a three-course meal for two in a mid-range restaurant can be enjoyed for around £45.50.

Once settled into your new home, the amount you’ll pay for council tax in Swansea is based on the Council Tax valuation band value into which your property is placed, as well as the number of adults who live there.

Bars, kitchens and restaurants in Swansea

Second only to Cardiff in terms of size, Swansea certainly gives the Welsh capital a run for its money when it comes to food and drink. From cheap eats to fine dining, quaint cafes to boisterous bars, there’s a lot to get your teeth stuck into in Swansea.

The city centre is positively brimming with delicious eateries. Perfect for a romantic meal for two, Hanson at the Chelsea serves local seafood in endlessly innovative ways. Set in an old brick house, the eclectic tapas-based menu at Mosaic fuses culinary staples from all over the world — from Jamaican jerk chicken to Japanese prawn katsu curry — and has a slick cocktail bar thrown in for good measure. And while it may have a Welsh name, Pant-y-Gwydr serves authentic French cuisine prepared using both traditional and original recipes.

A smash-hit among locals, Istanbul brings the mouthwatering Turkish tastes of the Bosphorus to the shores of Swansea Bay. Bouchon de Rossi serves southern French bistro classics in a sleek setting, while the waterside Gigi Gao’s Favourite Authentic Chinese was named the best restaurant in Wales! As far as city-centre dining goes, Swansea takes some beating.

If the casual dining of gastropubs is more your bag, Swansea’s got you covered. In the Swansea Bay and the Mumbles area, the great food and drinks available at The West Cross Inn, The Westbourne and the award-winning The Plough and Harrow all draw punters from far and wide. At the end of the Gower Peninsula, the 18th-century Britannia Inn and the low-key King’s Head Inn provide ample opportunity to unwind with a beer and burger away from the hustle and bustle.

Aside from independent restaurants and gastropubs, Swansea city centre contains many of the usual suspects of national or international chain restaurants, including ASK Italian, Las Iguanas, Bill’s, Five Guys, Nando’s, Slug & Lettuce, Frankie and Benny’s and Pizza Express.

For those who’d rather work in an independent business, there are also plenty of popular local cafes, tea rooms and bakeries. While technically a restaurant, the family-run Belle Vue Bistro doubles up as a local cafe or coffee shop and serves some of the best homemade food in town. Meanwhile, coffee lovers will rejoice at the perfect blends on offer at the aptly named Coffee#1 Swansea.

If you’re more suited to the fast-paced world of bars and clubs, central Swansea has a ton of great venues worth checking out. The rustic No Sign Wine Bar has origins in the 17th century; No. 6 Bar’s friendly staff serve up great gin and great food; BeerRiff’s fifteen rotating taps (including beer brewed in-house) make for a craft beer lover’s heaven; The Perch combines infused cocktails and original tapas to create a truly vibrant, relaxed atmosphere.

In addition to bars, restaurants and cafes, there are academic institutions (Swansea University; Gower College Swansea), sports venues (Liberty Stadium; St Helen’s Rugby and Cricket Ground), and hotels (including independent businesse as well as major chains such as Village Hotel, Hotel Ibis and Premier Inn) that require catering and hospitality professionals throughout the year. A range of opportunities can also be found in the city’s hundreds of primary schools and dozens of secondary and special schools, as well as in its hospitals and care homes.

Find Blue Arrow in Swansea

Click here for more information on our Swansea branch.

Blue Arrow Swansea
Ground Floor
48 Princess Way

Tel: 01792 645 521

Branch Opening Times
Monday - Friday: 8.00am - 5:30pm

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