Gerry Devlin, who was previously head of food operations at the Kilkenny Design Group, has acquired the Dublin Cookery School in Blackrock, Co Dublin.
Devlin was made redundant during the pandemic and bought the business in December from founder Lynda Booth. He has ambitious plans for the school which holds a wide range of cookery courses, corporate activities and other culinary events.
“Covid came axing down. I was part of the senior team – big revenues turned into restaurants closing. I think a lot of people in hospitality ran out of road. Myself and Lynda had been talking, but I ended up working with a friend of mine, Dominic Fusco of Fusco Foods for a year.
“So it took about a year to reach a deal and I took it on in December,” said Devlin.
“It’s a massive step up.”
He is building up the team at the school, adding new staff, with 17 people on the payroll last month including full-time and part-time workers.
“What we’re trying to develop is a community, so through collaboration we can bring in a freshness of ideas and make it interesting for people – people can become more accomplished in their cooking,” he said.
"It’s all about creating new ideas around courses, new content around courses.”
Devlin said people’s knowledge about food had grown enormously over the past decade, thanks in large part to social media.
Corporate bookings are strong. "It is such an adaptable space,” he said. “You’re able to have events, and team building and that business is actually phenomenal, it’s flooding in.”
He said the company holds pop-up restaurants at the venue and will hold themed barbecue events there during the summer months, including Thai and Argentinian-style barbecues.
Devlin said demand has been strong in the first three months under his ownership with people travelling for courses from around Ireland and abroad.
He started his career in the Glenview Hotel in Co Wicklow before travelling and working in the US and Australia. “I did hotel and hospitality management, so I was assistant manager, duty manager and then back in kitchens.”
When he came back to Ireland he began working in the Dublin Cookery School in 2010 where he stayed for three years, before joining the Kilkenny Group.
Courses include full-time monthly courses, weekend courses, one-off evening courses and courses focusing on a particular country’s cuisines. During the school holidays it will also hold junior cooking courses.