I am incredibly grateful and ecstatic for this moment in a journey of passion that I get to share with all of you. Originally from Chicago, I moved to Fort Wayne in March of 2018, and since then, my life has been full of exciting surprises and absolutely wonderful people. In July of 2018, with some encouragement from an office co-worker, I socially signed up for the Joseph Decuis 5K... not knowing that that race would forever change my life.
The race was held at the beautiful and well-manicured Joseph Decuis Farm in Columbia City, just outside of Fort Wayne, Indiana. The run weaved through the nature-filled woods and impressive estate, showcasing the pride and joy of the owners’ Farm to Table local produce and well-cared-for specialty Wagyu Cows and Mangalitsa Pigs. Towards the last leg of the race, I couldn’t help but notice another runner that continuously teetered at about my pace. He was hard to miss - tall, wavy silver-haired, wearing bright red running tights and highly-reflective sunglasses. We ended up crossing the finish line within seconds of each other, and I didn’t think anything else of it until approximately half an hour later when our paths crossed once again. As I wandered around the edges of the crowd, waiting for the food line to minimize, I noticed this same silver-haired man carrying wood logs across the property. Inquisitively, I asked him if he was a volunteer and if I could help...
(Before I divulge further... please keep in mind, I had only been here a few months, and barely knew anyone outside of a few people I hung out with from work... and didn’t know there was such a thing as Fort Wayne royalty.)
In any case, the silver-haired man laughed at me in disbelief and said, “No, I’m not a volunteer, I live here. I’m carrying wood to the smokehouse.”
I continued embarrassingly, “Oh! You’re Joseph Decuis!? I’ve heard great things about your restaurant!”
‘Joseph’ laughed at me further, “No... I’m Pete Eshelman.”
Long story short... we got to talking, and Pete graciously invited me back to meet the kind Eshelman family and staff at the farm and restaurant. I introduced Pete and his wife, Alice, to my extraordinary mother and retired Michelin recognized restaurateur. In December of 2018, Pete and Alice allowed me to work with their phenomenally talented head chef, Marcus Daniel, and for me to be their guest chef at their well-regarded restaurant, Joseph Decuis, in homage to my mother and Taiwanese heritage and to help fund raise for Blessings in a Backpack to feed local children in need. That was the beginning of this culinary journey I am so honored to be sharing with all of you now.
In September of 2019, with the introductions from some wonderful Fleet Feet ladies and Johnny from Mercadito, I had the privilege of meeting the amazing owners of HT2, Jenny and Nick. I still struggle with how strangely serendipitous fate can be... but I am beyond excited to see how this future unfolds. I hope you and friends can join me as I continue to grow in this unexpected endeavor, and enjoy my food I am honored to make for you.
With many thanks to the encouragement and support of Pete and Alice, Jenny and Nick, Dave, Claudia and Hugo, Adam and AJ, Kaicey and Peter, Sam and Jameson, Jane and Bill, Barb and Chris and Ryan G. and Sandy, Johnny, Ryan S., Linda and Susan, Morgan and Josh and Chris, Trent and Sarah, Robert, Terry, Shane, and all of my Fort Wayne Fleet Feet and Schneider Electric families, and Fearless Women, Ocean NEI, YLNI, Fortitude Fund motivational friends. And of course my family... without them, I wouldn’t be who I am today and have this need to provide good food to all.
33 was incredible, 34 will be even greater. Follow your dreams like it’s a marathon and not a sprint.