Local chef providing men of color a supportive place

Photography by Kelly Powell.

Aqui Greadington has worn many hats in the food industry, whether working as a private chef, a cooking instructor or a caterer. You may have seen his name featured on the menu of a local chef’s dinner series, or maybe you’ve seen him at the Brookside farmers market demonstrating how to make jam with leftover summer tomatoes.

Greadington’s pop-ups sell out consistently—his most recent was at the Kinship Café, where biscuits were the theme. Classic biscuits and gravy were present, of course, but the chef wowed with his creative meal of Biscuits N’ Blueberries, a homemade biscuit layered with brown sugar cinnamon butter, brie and blueberry compote topped with a Chantilly cream and lemon zest. For Greadington, the goal is to not only serve great food but also educate hungry eaters. 

Greadington’s activism goes beyond the food space, though. As the co-founder of the Black and Brown Men’s Healing Circle, he’s on a mission to provide men of color a space of support and healing. “Many of us have an extra layer of familial and cultural trauma, and we’re walking around without knowing who we are,” he says. “The way to combat that is vulnerability and unity.” 

Despite his current creative endeavors, not long ago Greadington was working a cushy corporate bank job where he was the top salesman for the Southeast region of the United States. As he achieved more monetary success, his mental health began to decline rapidly, leading him into a depression. After facing difficulty finding mental health resources that accounted for his cultural background, Greadington took matters into his own hands and created the BBMHC on Juneteenth last year. The group gathering is open to all men of color and pulls spiritual practices from ancestral knowledge as opposed to Western practices. The group meets each Sunday at Anchor Island Coffee, where the men can speak openly, with gentle guidance from the group’s rituals of affirmations, mantras and meditative practices.

Greadington says the organization is a communal project that is very “alive.” The journey of healing can be emotionally heavy, which is why the BBMHC focuses on play as another tool for wellness. “You have to remember how to play because that’s in our nature and that’s how we learn,” Greadington says. Aside from weekly meetings, the group also participates in community work, exercise and retreats. One of the current goals of the BBMHC is helping all group members obtain a passport. “Some of us may not have even thought about leaving Kansas City, much less the country,” he says.

Asked how he might pitch the group to someone who is hesitant to begin their healing journey with his organization, Greadington doesn’t skip a beat: “You deserve peace. The people in your life deserve the authentic version of you.” While the organization is self-funded, it is also open to donations. Keep updated on the BBMHC on bbmhc.com or on Instagram @bbmhckc

Perfect Day

Quick Bite: Hands down The Fix. Dave is the owner there and has done an excellent job creating what I call the “nourishing-neighborhood-spot” vibes. I know I can visit on any day and be greeted with a smile, great music and a sun-soaked table to accompany a great meal. I love to order the chimichanga plate with rice and guacamole. Tell them Chef Aqui sent you!

Dinner: A friend introduced me to a wonderful Nigerian-Jamaican fusion restaurant aptly titled Wah Gwan. On the eastern edge of Brookside sits this uniquely eclectic, women-led brick and mortar that yields your senses to the fancies of the sister-duo team of Tan and Wayne. The uplifting savory aroma from the Wah Gwan kitchen immediately transports you somewhere warm, coastal and lovingly Black. The dish that won me over is the honey-garlic tofu entree. Pair it with jollof rice, cabbage, fried plantains and you have got one bussin’ dish.

Dessert: Blackhole Bakery is one of the few reasons I’ll get up at six on a Saturday morning. I consider Chef Jason a friend, and I am so proud to see him doing his thing. My go-tos are almond croissants, sticky buns, any puff pastry, any mochi donut hole and an everything bagel with cream cheese.

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