Like ‘living in Narnia’: Beara Peninsula restaurant offering free rent and bills to a willing chef

Curiosities on the Beara peninsula in west Cork is looking for staff since January

The restaurant trade is suffering a perfect storm of rising costs and staff shortages, with 280 restaurants having closed in the last few months.

Staffing issues are particularly acute when it comes to chefs and cooks, as visa delays are making it harder to recruit from overseas.

In an attempt to overcome the issues, the operators of a restaurant on the Wild Atlantic Way are offering free accommodation with bills covered to any chef prepared to come and work for them in west Cork.

Curiosities, is based in Castletownbere on the Beara peninsula, across the road from the world-famous McCarthy’s Bar, which was the subject of the best-selling book of the same name in the 1990s.

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The chef/cook will have an apartment to his/herself with all bills paid, and a wage on top of that. The previous incumbent had to leave for personal reasons, and the restaurant has been struggling to find a replacement since January.

The restaurant specialises in traditional home cooking from the Beara peninsula, serving fare such as spiced beef and potato cakes. It also doubles as a second-hand furniture shop.

One of the co-owners compared living on the Beara peninsula to “living in Narnia”.

“You are surrounded by the sea. You are in the biggest fishing harbour in the country. You will be living in an amazing landscape,” she said. “The people are lovely. There is a good sense of community. It is like walking into old Ireland. It is not as manicured. It is very rugged and wild and functional.

“Our ethos is to get back to simple food and conversation. We encourage people not to be on their phones.”

In 2020, a proposal – described as a once-in-a-lifetime job – to manage tourist accommodation and a cafe on Great Blasket Island attracted 42,000 applicants.

This article was edited on Thursday, March 7th, 2024

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