Shalom Life | October 12, 2014

Conflict Kitchen's Palestinian Menu Stirs Controversy

The Pittsburgh restaurant is cooking up more than just lunch with their latest menu

By: Caitlin Marceau

Published: October 10th, 2014 in News » World

Conflict Kitchen's Palestinian Menu Stirs Controversy

Photo Caption: Food item as part of Conflict Kitchen's Palestinian menu

Photo Credit: Jezebel


Restaurants with rotating menus don’t normally stir up much controversy in their neighborhoods. They normally offer seasonal meals, new recipes, and guest chefs who can offer something new to the mix.

However Conflict Kitchen, which rotates its menu every three to five months, offers dishes exclusively from countries which are in conflict with the United States.

This session’s theme has stirred up some concern among its Pittsburgh patrons as it currently features food Palestinian-influenced flavors. Although no one is protesting a Palestinian menu, they are objecting to the fact that Conflict Kitchen is claiming that the US is at conflict with the Middle Eastern Country.

According to a report by CBS Pittsburgh, Gregg Roman, the Director of Community Relations Council at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, stating that, “Conflict Kitchen’s focus on countries in conflict is honorable, but Palestine is not in conflict with the U.S. The restaurant is stirring up conflict for the sake of trying to be relevant.”

However Jon Rubin, one of the founders of Conflict Kitchen, explained in an interview with CBS that the idea behind the restaurant was, “to fill what we felt was a void in Pittsburgh. So we started thinking about what can we serve and how can we have a conversation that’s not already here. We realized there has never been a Persian, or an Afghan or a Venezuelan restaurant in the city and that not only have never been those restaurants but, those communities actually exist here.”

Despite some people’s harsh reaction to the a Palestinian menu being chosen for the restaurant’s rotation, Rubin seems pleased that Conflict Kitchen has got people talking. “We are there to be a forum to engage Pittsburghers, or customers in the general public in conversations that they might not ordinarily have,” Rubin explained.

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