August 28, 2018

Tying the Knot at Drucker: A Wedding on Campus

Junko and Yuichiro Suzuki on the CGU campus.
NUPTIAL CELEBRATION: Drucker School alumna Junko Suzuki (MBA 2010) with husband Yuichiro Suzuki, who is a celebrity chef.

A large group of entrepreneurs, artists, and academics from around the world descended on the campus of Claremont Graduate University this summer for a special reason.

An academic conference? A fundraiser? A special series of summer workshops?

None of the above.

BURKLE STEPS: The Suzukis traded a walk down the aisle for the steps in front of the Burkle building.

They came to Claremont in late June for what was dubbed “the Drucker Wedding,” a nuptial celebration of  alumna Junko Suzuki (MBA, 2010) and local celebrity chef Yuichiro Suzuki, known to fans throughout California as the “Flying Pie Man.”

How did this jubilant mini-reunion come about?

“When we were at [fellow alumna] Amber Wu’s wedding in Taipei last year,” Junko said, “we talked about how weddings are such a great chance for everyone to get together. Yuichiro and I realized that if we held our wedding at Drucker, friends from around the world would come back for that.”

They were right. Alumni, professors, and university staff (as well as a host of other friends) celebrated with the Suzuki’s, who held their celebration on a sunny afternoon in the Jenkins Courtyard in front of the Ron W. Burkle Family Building (the home base of the Drucker School of Management).

The first toast was given by Jenny Darroch, Henry Y. Hwang Dean of the Drucker School, who thanked the couple for choosing the school as the place to celebrate their happy day. Her toast was followed by a touching speech by Professor Jeremy Hunter.

TOASTING THE HAPPY COUPLE:  Jenny Darroch, dean of the Drucker School.

Toasts to the happy couple were also given by Suzuki’s host family from her college days (CGU’s Director of Preparing Future Faculty, Shamini Dias, and her husband, MFA alumnus Young Tseng Wong) and by guests from many countries who flew in for the event.

“Of course we came back to Drucker!” said alumnus Tian-You Tang (MBA 2010), who flew in from Taipei for the wedding. “I love Junko and Yuichiro. I love this place: It was a very special time for us here.”

The couple’s Drucker roots go deep. Although Junko (now a financial statement auditor in the Bay Area) was the one enrolled at CGU, her husband also benefited from the Drucker School’s influence in an unexpected way. It was Drucker Professor Hunter who encouraged him to enter an L.A. cuisine contest that would eventually launch his reputation as a chef and brewer.

“I had just started dating my wife,” Hunter recalled. “So we would go by their house and try out his latest pies, as a date.” He recommended that Yuichiro should perfect making savory pies, which are considerably less common in the United States.

AN INSPIRING INFLUENCE: Professor Jeremy Hunter with his wife Tomo and their son.

“Professor Hunter loves food,” Junko added.  “We made and remade the same pie for two months, and he tasted all of them. He even came up with the name ‘Flying Pie Man’ for the business.”

The entire wedding bore the Suzukis’ flair for style and originality. Rather than cutting the cake, they co-flambeed a chocolate pie. Guests were served Yuichiro’s famous pastries and given home-brewed “Bride” and “Groom” beers as wedding favors. While the bride was traditionally attired in a flowing white dress, the groom sported a rakish pompador, and guests were encouraged to come and go as casually as they liked.

“The whole Claremont community has a family feeling,” Junko said. “Every time I come back and see these people, it feels like my hometown. I really like that.”

Story Correspondent for CGU: Paul Thomas; wedding photos courtesy of Drucker alumna Amy Reynolds (MBA, 2010)  

Junko Suzuki with some of her Drucker classmates.
REUNION TIME: Junko Suzuki with her former Drucker classmates.