These Baltimore chefs drove 6 hours to cook a dying customer her favorite dish

Baltimore restaurant owner went for a 6-hour-long drive to cook a special meal for a terminally ill woman. 

  • Chefs drove six hours from Baltimore to Vermont to cook a dying woman her favorite dish.
  • The woman, who was diagnosed with cancer, joked that when she’s on her deathbed, she wants to have Ekiben’s tempura broccoli one last time.
  • Her son-in-law contacted the restaurant asking for the recipe, but they decided to cook the meal in person instead. 

When Brandon Jones, 37, heard that his mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer, he was devastated. His wife, Rina, 38, was crushed by the overwhelming news. But they both remembered something they knew would make the dying woman smile one last time.

A while ago, Brandon’s mother-in-law had fallen in love with the tempura broccoli dish from the Baltimore Asian restaurant Ekiben, as Today reveals. She even joked she wants that very same dish when she is on her deathbed.


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A post shared by EKIBEN (@ekibenbaltimore)

So, when the time came, Jones gathered the courage to contact the chefs and ask them for the recipe. But instead of simply sending him the list of ingredients, they did something much more warmhearted than he had ever imagined.

When the chefs heard the dying woman’s touching story, they decided to take a trip from Baltimore to Vermont to cook her favorite dish in person.

Jones couldn’t believe the Ekiben team is willing to spend a whole day driving, only to cook his mother-in-law’s beloved broccoli special. He told the Washington Post:

“I emailed back, saying, ‘You do know that this is Vermont we’re talking about, right? It’s a six-hour drive.'”

Steve Chu, the restaurant’s owner, simply responded:

“No problem. You tell us the date, time, and location, and we’ll be there.”

Chu, his partner Ephrem Abebe, and their colleague Joe Añonuevo packed up their pickup with everything they need for making the woman’s most-cherished item from their menu.

Every time Rina’s mom traveled to Baltimore, she always made sure to stop by Ekiben in Fells Point and order her favorite tempura broccoli.

The 38-year-old recalled:

“She had always told us, ‘When I’m on my deathbed, I want to have that broccoli.’ 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!'”


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A post shared by EKIBEN (@ekibenbaltimore)

When the chefs arrived at Rina’s mom’s house, they turned their car into a kitchen on wheels. Despite the freezing-cold temperatures, they did their best to prepare the meal as if it was coming straight out of their restaurant.

As soon as the team finished cooking, they boxed up the dish and rang the doorbell. The homeowner was in awe when she saw them standing before her with her all-time favorite Asian special. Rina shared:

“My mom kept saying, ‘I don’t understand — you drove all the way up here to cook for me?’ She was so happy and touched to have that broccoli. She couldn’t believe it.”

The story becomes even better! Chu actually recognized the 72-year-old lady. 

It turned out that Rina’s mom was one of the restaurant owner’s favorite customers. He said:

“We see a lot of people in the restaurant, but she always stood out. She loves the food and always made sure to tell us. She’s an amazing, sweet lady.”

Chu continued:

“To me, 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.”

Talking to Baltimore Sun, Rina said the chefs’ act of kindness was “something we’ll never forget.” She added:

“I’ll carry that positive memory with me, always.”

Baltimore City Council member Zeke Cohen was deeply impressed by Chu and his team’s benevolent deed. He commented:

“We hear a lot about the challenges of restaurants in Baltimore. Yet despite the pandemic, despite crime, some are still thriving. I always point to Ekiben as a business that always models respect for community and treats people with love. Plus their food is amazing!”

Have you tried Ekiben’s crispy tempura broccoli? Were you touched by this heartwarming story? Leave a comment to let us know!

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