When Brandon Jones’ mother-in-law reached the final stages of lung cancer, she shared her wish to eat her favorite meal one last time. She used to visit Baltimore regularly, and when she did, she made a point to visit Ekiben in Fells Point to have their tempura broccoli, with fresh herbs, red onion, and rice vinegar.
Brandon’s wife Rina remembered how her mother would always rave about the food, “She had always told us, ‘When I’m on my deathbed, I want to have that broccoli.’” Rina said her mom would jokingly request the dish when her daughter would visit from Baltimore.
Since his mother-in-law resided in Vermont, Brandon wasn’t sure how he would be able to fulfill this wish. He reached out to Steve Chu, co-owner of Ekiben in Baltimore, by email. Brandon’s plan was to ask for the recipe, so he could make the meal for his mother-in-law. Chu responded and surpassed Brandon’s expectations.
Instead of simply providing the recipe, Steve Chu offered to meet Brandon in Vermont to make the meal fresh for his mother-in-law.
Brandon wasn’t sure how to respond. “I emailed back, saying, ‘You do know that this is Vermont we’re talking about, right? It’s a six-hour drive.”
Chu wasn’t phased, “No problem. You tell us the date, time, and location and we’ll be there.”
Steve Chu, his co-owner Ephrem Abebe, and their colleague Joe Añonuevo took all the food and equipment they needed all the way to Vermont to cook this important meal. Brandon’s mother-in-law was beyond delighted.
“My mom cried later about their generosity and so did I,” Rina Jones recounted, “I’ll carry that positive memory with me, always.”
Chu told the Washington Post, “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.”
Because of their genuine concern and love for their customers, Steve Chu and Ephrem Abebe acted without hesitation. They were so honored by their patron’s wish for one last broccoli tempura, there was nothing that could’ve stopped them from preparing this dish as an act of pure love.
When we put goodness into the world, it reaches others and has a multiplying effect. These Baltimore chefs put care and love into every dish. Brandon’s mother-in-law recognized the beauty in their work and it brought her joy. A meal like this could be a simple transaction, but for Chu and his customer, the connection was deeper.
How does your life impact the lives of those around you? How far will you go to share joy and express compassion for others?