When I was a young and aspiring hotelier in the 70’s one of the industry’s idols was John Tovey. The first celebrity chef even before Keith Floyd. Almost in the same era as the Craddocks and the Galloping Gouirmet!
John Tovey achieved success as the owner of Miller Howe hotel and restaurant near Windemere in the Lake District. After purchasing the 12-bedroom property in 1971 he became one of the leading lights of the country house hotel scene.
My colleague Kit Chapman, Manging Director of the Castle at Taunton said,
“Eating at Miller Howe was like spending an evening at the theatre. Guests were called into dinner, the lights went down, you enjoyed the wonderful view over Lake Windermere and you were served a wonderful, no choice menu. The only choice came at pudding, It was a show. The likes of John no longer exist. He was a real one-off, larger than life character. He was a huge personality and Miller Howe was his stage.”
The chef went on to achieve public recognition with a number of cookery books, including The Miller Howe Cook Book and Entertaining with Tovey: How to Star in Your Own Kitchen, as well as starring in several TV series.
Tovey sold Miller Howe in 1998 for about £800,000 – having reportedly purchased it for £26,500 – which enable him to retire to his beloved to South Africa where he lived comfortably and peacefully until his death this week at 85