For the man who lives in Glasgow's East End will tomorrow compete with the creme de la creme of kitchen talent in a cook-off which will end with the winner being crowned Britain's top chef.
To even make the final of the Chef of the Year contest at London's Earls Court is a remarkable achievement for the 30-year-old, who left school with six Standard grades.
Now he's preparing for the biggest test of his culinary career when he takes on another seven contestants, some of whom work in Mitchelin star restaurants.
John doesn't work in an establishment with a reputation for fine dining.
He works for catering giant Sodexo Prestige and is the executive chef at the sprawling Thalis Optronics site at Linthouse, Glasgow.
The first meal he cooked up as a chef was fish and chips and that's still a hot favourite among staff who work for the French defence contractor.
He said: "I must have done thousands of fish and chips.
"Another favourite is mince and tatties."
John who lives in Shettleston, said: "I left school with six Standard grades – no Highers – and the next day I was scrubbing the burned pots and pans of chefs in the kitchens at ScottishPower in Cathcart.
"I was taken on as a kitchen porter but within a few months I became a trainee chef, and the first meal I prepared was fish and chips."
For four years he worked for Sodexo in the kitchens at the fuel giant's headquarters before quitting for a job as chef with a Glasgow restaurant chain.
He also spent time at the Platform 1 eaterie in Paisley.
John then returned to the Sodexo fold and has been based at Thalis for the last four years.
But there's a lot more to him than traditional mass catering meals.
He's developed his skills for fine dining and is often called upon to cook up fancy dishes at corporate events.
The Restaurant Show at Earls Court tomorrow will see him tested to the maximum.
John said: "I'm over the Moon to be in the final.
"We all have the same ingredients and it's all down to what happens on the day. I'm confident I can do well.
"It is a huge achievement to reach the final of such a prestigious competition as this and it could be a major step forward in my career.
"Sodexo have been extremely supportive of me throughout this and I am really looking forward to the final and showcasing my food against some exceptionally talented chefs."
John has every right to be confident in his own abilities, having knocked out a number of rivals who work for Mitchelin star establishments, and he has the backing of his boss.
Jim Doolan, who is responsible for heading up the Sodexo operations at Thalis, said: "Jim has knocked out seven chefs from Mitchelin star restaurants so I'm very confident he can win.
"He has the menu and the skill set to do it. I really am very hopeful that he will win, or at least finish in the top three.
"John started right at the bottom as a kitchen porter.
"For a contract caterer to reach that kind of level in competition with chefs of this calibre is remarkable."
More than 140 chefs entered the competition and now it's down to the last eight.
Friends, colleagues and family are hoping John will sizzle on the day, especially since once of his rivals is a prodigy of a past winner – Gordon Ramsay.
JOHN'S MENU FOR THE BIG EVENT
FOR a man who's first professional dish was fish and chips John Howie can now compete with the very best.
Two hours of preparation and cooking and seven rivals stand between him and instant, national stardom in the Craft Guild of Chefs Chef of the Year competition.
It's a bit of a mouthful, which is why it's usually referred to as UK Chef of the Year.
And if you're not feeling peckish now then chances are you will once you read his three course menu:
:: Mousseline of scallops with a seafood medley, seasonal vegetables and shellfish nage (broth) served with spiced tomato consommé.
:: Loin of venison with Wensleydale blue cheese potato cake, sweet and sour plums, savoy cabbage with bacon and roasted sesame seeds, served with girolles and black peppercorn jus.
:: Flavours of toffee, apple, and chocolate: Madagascar chocolate velour; cindered candy wafers; and Calvados toffee apples served with vanilla ice cream and hot butterscotch sauce.