Chef Ken Myszka, of Downs, IL, first discovered his interest in hospitality through hosting family gatherings and parties for close friends. He was instantly captivated by the ability to make people feel good and the joy of taking care of others. During high school, Ken became wholly intrigued with the culinary world, by its energy, excitement, and complexity. Vocational cooking classes through his high school helped to further develop Ken’s skill set, while paving the way for his professional future. At the guidance of Ken’s teachers he enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in New York.
Curious about the business side of the food industry, Ken enrolled at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas for a Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management. Las Vegas provided the perfect opportunity for Ken to blend his interest in immaculate cuisine with the world of hospitality. While in Las Vegas, he worked in the elite kitchens of renowned hotels, Restaurant Guy Savoy and Bradley Ogden at Cesar’s Palace, and Bouchon at the Venetian. In addition, Ken has worked throughout restaurants in the U.S., including Solo (New York), Company American Bistro (Las Vegas), and the Broadmoor Resort (Colorado Springs). However, despite an early career in some of the country’s finest restaurants, Ken never lost site of his roots in Central Illinois.
Armed with impressive culinary experience and a vision for a sustainable farm/restaurant, Myszka returned to Bloomington, Illinois in January 2009, where he began establishing the foundation for Epiphany Farms Enterprise. The mission is to create a diversified, pasture based, food system, one that blends beyond organic farming with impeccable food. In 2011 EFE entered its next development phase by partnering with Restaurateurs Chad Ellington and Steve Roper at Station Two Twenty and The Loft Lounge in Downtown Bloomington. These completely seasonal establishments have served as testing grounds for the EFE plan, to supply a restaurant with products from their own farm.
Working with the land completely changed Ken’s perspective on food. He began to see cuisine on a more connected and sustainable level. Ken sees EFE as a beacon for sustainability, a catalyst for social change. With each experience at providing warm hospitality comes an opportunity to educate about the importance of alternatives to the conventional restaurant industry. Additionally, Public presentations have become a way for Ken to expand upon his mission, as forums to showcase this new model of farm/restaurant. Ken is committed to supporting, growing, and showcasing a thriving local food culture, in an effort to re-envision the current culinary landscape.
Chef Stu Hummel, of Clearfield, PA, remembers the first time he cooked for others, and the satisfaction he gained from making them happy. Today, each time he prepares a meal for someone, he still gets that same feeling he experienced at fourteen. Stu attended Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh, and then further honed his skills working at restaurants such as 27 Ocean Blue (Boca Raton), Company American Bistro (Las Vegas), Joël Robuchon (Las Vegas), and at The Mansion at the MGM Grand (Las Vegas).
Epiphany Farms Enterprise seemed like the perfect opportunity to grow as a chef, while creating a holistically sustainable operation. So, in September 2009, Stu joined Ken and Nanam in Illinois, and became a chef/farmer. Stu is dedicated to furthering EFE and Station Two Twenty’s mission of creating a vertically integrated farm/restaurant model. Each day new systems are established with an eye towards the ecological state of the land, soil, farm, and community. Stu embraces his role in stewarding the land, individually and as a chef.
Getting his hands in the dirt enlightened Stu to the energy required to grow something. Caring for a product from seed to harvest, seeing a carrot, for example, through its infancy and adolescence, and nurturing it into maturity builds a strong bond. Chef Stu sees it as his responsibility to provide that carrot with the best finish possible, out of respect to the vegetable and the energy that created it.
Raising the food he works with creates an emotional connection, one that Stu strives to communicate to his guests. Hospitality is a cornerstone of that interaction, a chance to create a community where neighbors support and depend on each other. As Stu sees it, “Hospitality is like a warm blanket,” an ongoing dialogue that serves to educate, bring comfort, and nourish all those involved.
Nanam Yoon Myszka, of Seoul, Korea, is motivated by a strong passion for taking care of others. From a young age Nanam was constantly striving to ensure that everyone around her was happy. She channeled this enthusiasm into a degree in Hospitality Management from the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. After completing her studies, Nanam’s interests lead her to Customer Relations positions at InterContinental Hotels Group (Dubai, UAE) and at Samsung Electronics (Seoul, Korea).
In June 2009, Nanam joined Ken at Epiphany Farms Enterprise, and instantly developed a profound commitment to creating a sustainable farm and restaurant system. Prior to relocating to Central Illinois she had never touched a shovel, but Nanam quickly learned to love life on the farm. Nanam describes her dedication to EFE and Station Two Twenty’s mission as something that has permeated every part of her life. From the start of each day, “When you open your eyes in the morning, you know you are making the world a little better place than yesterday. That's meaningful.”
Nanam infuses her drive for providing the utmost level of customer satisfaction throughout EFE and 220. Her involvement in these organizations gives Nanam the opportunity to combine what she already loves with a business she cares about deeply – a business model that will ensure a healthy future for her family and community.
Matt Myszka, of Downs, Illinois planned on joining his brother, Chef Ken, from the first days of Epiphany Farms. Matt has always enjoyed a close relationship with animals, and in March 2012, he assumed his current role as farmhand and livestock director. Prior to working with EFE, Myszka made a career of caring for animals, including four years with his family’s angus business and another two as a hoof trimmer.
Now, as part of Epiphany Farms and Station Two Twenty, Myszka loves seeing everything come together – the restaurant, the farm, the animals – being a part of making it all come together. Matt considers his position as more than a job, but intrinsic to a future where communities unite and thrive. As he sees it, either way “I have to live and eat…one day society is going to have to learn what we’re doing, and we have a head start.”