Death of a legendary salesman

Dennis Gowing, a.k.a. Kevin Dennis, sponsor of one-time Channel 9 hit New Faces and multi-faceted entrepreneur. The Briton who rose from humble beginnings — he arrived in Australia in 1949 as a 10 pound migrant — to become one of Australia’s best-known identities, died in 1991 at the age of 62, but remains a daily inspiration to his only daughter.

Read former Age Good Food Guide editor Rita Erlich’s obituary
The Age 4/12/91

An extract from Samantha’s book The Healing Feeling.

My father thoroughly his enjoyed life…. until he realized that it was causing his death. After his cancer diagnosis, he endeavoured giving up cigarettes, food, wine, women, fast cars, bars … and cigars! It was too late, and by the time he died in 1991, at the age of 62, nearly every cell in his body was consumed by cancer.

I was devastated.

Nevertheless, I am grateful that my father’s premature death ignited my own deep interest in healthy living, healthy food and a concern about not only my own lifestyle but also about the one encouraged by the restaurant industry into which I was born.

After years of witnessing guests devour many a plate of fried fish with chips, it became increasingly obvious that what the palates of Melbourne were really hungering for was the comforting foods of their youth, which certainly did nothing for the linings of their arteries, nor their waistlines. Sadly, the preference lay not with Gowings Restaurant’s less processed, healthier signature dishes: Beluga caviar, Papillote of Whiting or the Venison Saddle with Bordeaux glaze.   Overcharred steak or anything that was sweet and/or salty, especially the beer-battered flathead and frozen, machine-cut potatoes– foods that were then fried in thick lashings of molecularly damaged oil – won hands down!

When my father was diagnosed with cancer, his doctor endeavoured to persuade him to reduce his consumption of smoked salmon and chargrilled fare. As he had not been given a logical reason as to why, he made little effort to do so.  Had he been aware that his illness was being exacerbated by Benzpyrene, a carcinogen that is produced by the smoking and the chargrilling of foods and the overheating of oil, he may have been more vigilant.

Dennis-Gowing-Melbourne-Cup-1985-Rennie-Ellis

Herald Sun Business

Edition 1 – FIRSTMON 08 SEP 2003, Page 024

By ZELDA CAWTHORNE

SAMANTHA Gowing must be blinding to the people who believe in auras. In a country groaning under mounting obesity and depression, the founder of Gowings Food and Health positively radiates good health and vibes.

The fighting fit young Melburnian hasn’t escaped the notice of the business community. Her appointment book is crammed with bookings from executives in need of her nutrition and fitness courses.

Byron-bay-nutritionist-Samantha-Gowing-Herald-Sun-Business

Food for thought: Samantha Gowing has become an urban guru.

Their range is a bit dizzying. “I’ve just completed a series of pilates classes for the mortgage section at ANZ and there’s a lot coming up,” she says at her company’s base in Fitzroy.

“My corporate work this month will include a nutrition course at Ikea and a Pilates program for a Nike conference.”

That’s the short list. The full one ranges from Ms Gowing‘s catering service to her weekly cooking classes — the emphasis on the therapeutic benefits of good eating habits. She also teaches yoga and is developing a range of organic food products. Genes have played a major role in this phenomenon whose multiple services would each tax most fitness and nutrition pros to the hilt.

“I am my father’s daughter,” Sam Gowing says proudly. If the penny hasn’t dropped, try Dennis Gowing, co-founder of Kevin Dennis Motors, sponsor of one-time Channel 9 hit New Faces and multi-faceted entrepreneur. The Briton who rose from humble beginnings — he arrived in Australia in 1949 as a 10 pound migrant — to become one of Australia’s best-known identities, died in 1991 at the age of 62, but remains a daily inspiration to his only daughter.

“My dad raised me and my brothers after he and my mother separated, and he taught me everything from cooking — and later, running a restaurant — to appreciating Australian contemporary art,” recalls Ms Gowing. “Horses were dad’s other big passion. From the age of six, I went to the races with him and our place was always full of manuals on bloodlines. Our biggest thrill was when his horse What A Nuisance won the Melbourne Cup in 1985.”

There were many other triumphs including Dennis Gowing‘s restaurant ventures, but the glory days had faded by the time he died and his children didn’t inherit the fortune many assumed they did. “I sold my house a couple of years ago when I was studying at the Melbourne College of Natural Medicine,” reveals Ms Gowing. “It was only way I could cope financially because of the pressures of study.”

The risky move paid off. Armed with a raft of qualifications including accreditation as an instructor from the National College of Fitness, she launched her company late last year and soon found herself dubbed “the urban guru”. She is also an award-winning restaurateur, speaks fluent Japanese, studied art and ceramics at university and does a weekly radio segment called Bite Me, but sees none of it as extraordinary compared with the achievements of her larger-than-life father.

Caption: Food for thought: Samantha Gowing has become an urban guru.

Illus: Photo

IllusBy: FIONA HAMILTON

Section: BUSINESS

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