Chef Ahki: Always Be Cleansing
Updated: May 13, 2018
People tend to find Sepsenahki “Chef Ahki” Aahkhu, top of the Delicious Indigenous Foods chain, at many junctures. Whether they are looking to transition from a conventional diet to a vegan diet, trying to detox due to illness or dietary transition, or trying to prevent lingering feelings of malaise -- via word of mouth or online memes, they find her. In their searching, they might also discover her genealogy, or her council of elders, so to speak; a long line of healers -- Queen Afua, Dr. Llaila Afrika, Aris Latham, Dr. Sebi -- who have all been asked the questions that humans have collectively mulled over for millennia: How do we live long and well? And whenever and wherever they find Chef Ahki, she meets them exactly where they are, with answers and insight. “You are your number one priority – make that your mantra. If you are not well, nothing around you is going to grow and succeed. You can choose to eat death or eat life with every bite. It’s really that simple. Yes, we all have to die but it’s about the quality of life while you’re living every day.”
She starts her days, fittingly, in the kitchen. By 7 a.m. herbal tea and green smoothies have been made and early meals prepped for her family – her husband and newborn son. And if you’re one of the roughly five consults she averages daily doing meal planning prep and wellness goals, she may find her way to your kitchen to ensure that it is “prepared to facilitate wellness.” Her books, “Electric! A Modern Guide to Non-Hybrid and Wild Foods” and “The Fibroid Elimination Recipe Guide” in conjunction with the Aboriginal Medical Association echo the teachings as will the three more publications she has in queue. Get acquainted with new ways to indulge the familiar with a “Living Lasagna” stacked raw with crooked neck squash, basil, zucchini, sundried tomato; or Asian Kelp Noodle Salad drizzled with Sesame Ginger Lime Sauce. Eschewing the labels du jour, she calls it simply indigenous – plant-based, non-dairy, non-hybrid and electric.
She learned about the mind, body, spirit connection from her grandmother – one of four women who reared her to acknowledge the old, wise and timeless in the present. The keen knowledge about which foods that we consume are acidic and thus mucus-forming and inflammation-causing – the roots of chronic disease – and on the contrast which were literally life-giving would come later as her own body continued to affirm the path she was taking.
“I remember my grandmother saying fast and pray. That has always stayed with me anytime I felt overwhelmed with my life in any capacity, whether it was a physical illness or just stress. Fast and pray. So that has taken on a new form for me. Also understanding the teaching that we have everything that we need. When I think of disease, I believe that whatever disease there is, it naturally comes with its own cure. I don’t believe there is a disease that can’t be remedied. I believe the lifestyle choices are the remedy. Illness is unnecessary. It may be normal, but it’s not natural. My personal vitality and wellness is a reflection of that.”
Lately Chef Ahki is finding increasing resonance with the masses, previously hesitant about perceived cost, inconvenience or inaccessibility or hindered by age-old family food traditions and emotional attachments therein.
“The Green movement has crossed over from the suburbs from the middle class, upper middle class Americans to hip hop, to everyday people young and old of all tax brackets. Healthy food, vegan food, that lifestyle has become popular culture now. I came in at a time when it just was not cool. And I’d like to think I had a hand in its growing popularity because I worked really hard to create memes and set up images in the last six years that would make this lifestyle look cool. I remember six years ago telling the people who were working with me on photography, branding and images that I will not be that hippie, hairy armpit girl. This is going to be culinary excellence, black excellence. It’s going to look unapologetically black, and it’s going to be upscale and classy at the same time.”
And black excellence and wellness are synonymous.
“Staying well is 80 percent of the battle because if you can keep your mind clear and your body clean you can keep your vitality and you can address anything life throws at you. If you have to be faced with what life comes with, which is always going to be challenging, and then you have to also fight with your own body and fight with your own health and your confidence and self image due to that, imagine how much hard it’s going to be? At a young age I made a choice that if nothing else, I am going to keep my body well. And all through these years I remember that when I decide to heal myself, I am honoring the way that our ancestors ate to live.”
-- Kamille D. Whittaker
Originally published in Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine | May 2016