Susan Bell

Executive Head Chef – Howth Castle Estate


Susan, our head chef here at Howth Estate, trained in the UK and gained her initial cooking experience at the hands of Marco Pierre White at his 3 Michelin starred restaurant in Hyde Park. From there she moved to Marcus Waring’s L’Oranger and then to Petrus. Susan’s training and experience has seen her work in all aspects of the kitchen to the highest culinary level.

She moved to Ireland to work with Kevin Thornton in Portobello, working her way up to Sous Chef. After a stint with Raymond Blanc as Head Chef back in Cheltenham, she returned again to Ireland to one of her first culinary loves, patisserie work where she set up her own company before moving on to take up a Head Pastry Chef role with the Butler’s Pantry for over 2 years. At Butler’s she catered for 10 shop outlets making freshly baked cakes, tarts and desserts. Moving on Susan has catered for various events and private houses including the British Ambassador’s residence. We are very proud to have Susan tutoring at Howth Castle Cookery School, her vast experience speaks for itself and her wealth of kitchen knowledge makes her a cornerstone of our teaching team.



JB Isabelle is a trained chef with a deep rooted passion for food and adventure. His knowledge of food developed at an early age.
He grew up abroad, where he had the opportunity to be exposed to the multi-cultural cuisines of the world.

After several years working in the international food & beverage business sector, he decided to act on his passion and enrolled in the Ballymaloe 12-week Certificate Course, where he graduated with distinction.  He then proceeded to work as a full-time private chef for a number of select clients.

Following this, he decided to combine his expertise in cooking and commercial experience to launch his own business platform where he provides independent consultancy services and bespoke catering. He loves the teaching side of cookery and thrives on the joy people get from learning more about food.

Gemma Hobson


Alongside teaching for us here at Howth Castle Cookery School, Gemma runs a boutique catering company focusing on nutrition and specialised diets.

Further to graduating from Ballymaloe Cookery School, Gemma went on to work in Caviston’s fish restaurant in Glasthule. She then went on to work with the Butlers Pantry for 6 years and is a very talented cake designer and breads specialist. 

Her interest in health and nutrition however evolved when she starting work with The Soul Food company, assisting and delivering various nutrition based courses whilst completing her qualification at the Irish Institute for Health and Nutrition.

 Gemma is our expert on Paleo diets and our cookery school encyclopaedia when it comes to food allergies, intolerances and coeliac disease.

Sarah Hughes

Senior Tutor

Ballymaloe trained, Sarah spent her early cooking years working in an organic restaurant in Co. Wicklow and as a private chef for both well known personalities and embassies alike.  Another four years at No. 10 Ormonde Quay, a private house and venue in Dublin gave her great bespoke catering experience and insight. Sarah has also cooked and taught at other city centre venues & rustic style café /brunch eateries around town, rounding out her experience of both top end cooking and the more informal approach to food.

With us for 6 years, Sarah is renowned for her professional yet relaxed teaching approach. Having grown up by the sea, her inherent love of seafood and natural affinity for teaching, makes her a strong part of our team here in Howth Castle.
A recent 3 month trip through France, Italy and Greece last year re-invigorated her love of both Mediterranean and Middle
Eastern food and has given many of our classes on this year’s upcoming schedule a new impetus and modern twist.

Mary Drum


From Sutton, Mary Drum has been with the Cookery School for five years and has been phenomenally passionate about food and the importance of teaching people to cook all her life. A talented chef, Mary won the RTE Amateur Cook of the Year award in 2008 which led to her setting up her own catering business and subsequently joining the staff of Howth Castle Cookery School.

Mary’s natural cooking skills and innate ability to communicate with all ages makes her a valuable member of the team.

John Carty


After his City and Guilds chef training, John worked in many famous restaurants; Trudis, Shrimps and the Gray Door to name but a few before taking up a head chef position in La Stampa on Dawson St.  After a number of years at La Stampa he was offered an Executive Chef role with Fitzwilliam Hotel group catering for up to 750 covers in any one corporate event.

John then went on to set up a catering company partnership cooking for very well known Irish and international clients both in the music and film industry and the finance and corporate world alike. This experience led on to the appointment of his catering company as the exclusive caterer to no. 10 Ormonde Quay, a magnificently restored Georgian 5 storey venue where his experience of fine dining for both intimate and larger events was put to fabulous use.

John is an experienced chef and a natural teacher whose knowledge of all culinary aspects is very appreciated here at Howth Castle Cookery School by the team and students alike.