A restaurant owner from Baltimore drove six hours to Vermont to fulfill a dying woman’s wish to eat her favorite dish one last time.
Earlier this month, 30-year-old Steve Chu, who co-owns two Ekiben restaurants in Baltimore, received an email from Brandon Jones asking if he could share Ekiben’s recipe for tempura broccoli.
Jones explained that his mother-in-law is terminally ill due to lung cancer and joked that the last thing she would like to eat was the said dish.
Instead of simply obliging to the request, Chu offered to meet Jones and his wife, Rina, in Vermont to make it fresh.
“You do know that this is Vermont we’re talking about, right?'” Jones shared, answering the chef’s offer.
“No problem. You tell us the date, time and location and we’ll be there,” Chu answered.
Jones’ mother-in-law always prioritized going to Ekiben in Fells Point every time she visits Baltimore, where she orders the same dish — tempura broccoli topped with fresh herbs, red onion, and rice vinegar.
“She had always told us, ‘When I’m on my deathbed, I want to have that broccoli,'” Rina Jones shared in an interview.
“In fact, when I was packing on Friday to drive up to Vermont, I called my mom to see if she wanted us to bring anything special and she jokingly said, ‘tempura broccoli!'”
On Saturday, Chu and his colleague Joe Añonuevo loaded up their pickup and drove the six hours to Vermont heading to Rina’s mom’s house.
As soon as they arrived, the chefs set up a makeshift kitchen in their truck and started cooking the coveted broccoli.
“My mom kept saying, ‘I don’t understand — you drove all the way up here to cook for me?'” Rina said, “She was so happy and touched to have that broccoli. She couldn’t believe it.”