As the aroma of John Celestian’s delectable treats wafts through his bakery, it serves as a reminder that life’s greatest adventures often stem from unforeseen twists of fate. And for the Native American-born entrepreneur, this truth has been repeatedly realized.

In the bustling streets of Taipei, amidst the aroma of freshly baked cinnamon buns, lies the story of John Celestian, a Florida native whose journey has taken him from the heart of China to the vibrant shores of Taiwan. „It wasn’t originally planned,“ he says, while preparing banana bread in the kitchen.

Born and raised in Florida, John’s adventurous spirit led him far beyond his hometown. After completing his studies in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford, he embarked on a different journey. For thirteen years, John immersed himself in the vibrant culture of China, where he established a thriving business centered around motorcycle parts.

As the world grappled with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, John found himself navigating uncertain territories once again. While on a journey during the outbreak, China’s sudden closure of its borders forced him to reroute his path to Taiwan. Little did he know, this unexpected detour would lead to a new chapter in his life.

Settling in Taipei, John initially took on the role of an English teacher, a job he secured within a day’s time. Despite the ease of finding employment, teaching failed to ignite the same passion within him as his previous endeavors. “That wasn’t for me, I wanted to start something of my own again.” So John ventured into the world of baking.

Their banana bread is also very popular, especially in the summer. Picture: Cinnamon Tree

At first he thought of opening a pizza restaurant. If it wasn’t for his friend, his bakery might never have got off the ground. His friend was visiting a bakery in Taipei where the customers were crazy about the cinnamon buns. “You won’t believe it”, he said to John, “there’s a huge craze for cinnamon buns here”. Drawing inspiration from his grandmother’s recipes, he opened “Cinnamon Tree” (肉桂樹), a cozy bakery where he sells sticky buns, cinnamon buns, and brownies. The aroma of freshly baked goods fills the air, reminiscent of his childhood memories.

He now has two shops in Taipei, not far from each other, where he employs four full-time and four part-time staff. The clientele could not be more different. „The Shida store is mostly students, while Jinhua Street is mostly families and tourists.“ John’s business is going well, he says. In the cooler months, Taiwanese crave sweet American treats more than they do in the hot summer months. But John wouldn’t be the entrepreneurial type if he didn’t think about it – and has been busy improving his delicious banana bread ever since. „It goes well with the hot summer temperatures,“ he says.

The aroma of freshly baked goods serves as a testament to John’s spirit and unwavering pursuit of passion. Despite the distance from his family in the United States, John finds solace and fulfillment in the vibrant rhythms of life in Asia. His story serves as a reminder that life’s greatest adventures often lie in the unexpected detours.

The cinnamon bun maestro – John Celestian’s culinary adventure in Taipei


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