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Chef goes above and beyond for terminally ill customer



  • A 72-year-old woman with late-stage cancer loves Ekiben’s tempura broccoli so much.
  • So her son-in-law reached out to the restaurant for the recipe so he could cook for her.
  • Instead, Ekiben’s owner volunteered to go to her place, which is six hours away, and cooked the dish himself!

Chinese food has surely become famous in America, but for some, it could be the only food that matters.

This is how much a 72-year-old lady, who is battling late-stage cancer, has gotten into Chinese cuisine. And it’s not just any Chinese meal but a very specific tempura broccoli from Ekiben.

Photo Credit: Ekiben/Facebook

She has been a loyal customer of the restaurant and had always ordered her favorite for years. Living in Vermont, she would always insist on going to Ekiben in Fells Point whenever she would visit her daughter and son-in-law in Baltimore — all for the love of that tempura broccoli topped with fresh herbs, diced onion, and fermented cucumber vinegar.  

According to the couple, Brandon and Ria Jones, they have taken their mom to Ekiben at least 20 times.

Rina told Washington Post: “She had always told us, ‘When I’m on my deathbed, I want to have that broccoli.”

Witnessing for so long how much his mother-in-law has fallen in love with this food, Brandon tried to make it so she could eat the dish again despite the six-hour distance from her place to the restaurant.

Brandon emailed Chef Steven Chu, owner of Ekiben, to request for the recipe, so he could personally cook it for his loved one.

In a heartbeat, Brandon got a response from Steven that completely left him speechless. The chef committed to traveling to Vermont and preparing the meal himself for the Jones’ family, free-of-charge!

Photo Credit: Brandon Jones/Washington Post

“It was a huge honor to be able to help fulfill the family’s wishes. This is about her, not us. There was a lot of good, positive energy in doing this,” Steven told Washington Post.

Chef Steven, his business partner Ephrem Abebe, and employee Joe Anoneevo packed up for Vermont. They stayed overnight in an Airbnb rental, gathered all the ingredients, and prepared the feast in the parking lot of the condo of Rina’s mother. They prepared tofu dishes, and, of course, the mother’s all-time favorite broccoli tempura.

Photo Credit: Brandon Jones/Facebook

When they knocked at the door, the Jones insisted for the mom to answer it. It wasn’t surprising that she recognized the smell and the Ekiben team as soon as she opened the door.

Rina shared that her mom was so confused, asking if the guys have driven all the way to her place to cook for her. “She was so happy and touched to have that broccoli. She couldn’t believe it,” that she cried later on.

As for Steven, the “sweet lady” has “always stood out” in the restaurant. “She loves the food and always made sure to tell us. She’s an amazing, sweet lady…”

Source: Tank’s Good News