Meet the Baltimore Restaurant Owners Who Drove 6 Hours to Serve a Terminally Ill Woman

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When Steve Chu, the owner of Ekiben, an Asian-fusion restaurant in Baltimore, got an email requesting a recipe for a 72-year-old cancer patient, he went one step further…

Because her favorite dish, broccoli tempura, was best served fresh, he decided to pack up a mini-kitchen and drive all the way to Vermont to serve the terminally ill woman her favorite dish. 

The co-owner, Ephrem Abebe, and another colleague, went with him. The email came from the woman’s son-in-law, who claimed that she used to say, “”When I’m on my deathbed, I want to have that broccoli.”

When they arrived, they set up a makeshift kitchen outside in the freezing Vermont air, just to get the dish fresh and perfect. They even struggled to get the deep dryer to the right temperature because it was so cold!

“My mom kept saying, ‘I don’t understand — you drove all the way up here to cook for me?’” Said the woman’s daughter. She ended up loving the dish. 

Steve Chu is a 2nd-generation Taiwanese American who started Ekiben with Ephram Abebe, a college classmate. Inspired by his father, who also started one of the most beloved restaurants in Maryland, Chu and Abebe started Ekiben as a hot dog cart. Now, it’s a Baltimore hotspot known for their delicious bao sandwiches.