Conflict Kitchen

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Conflict Kitchen
Conflickt Kitchen triple logo.png
Restaurant information
Established 2010
Current owner(s) Jon Rubin and Dawn Weleski
Food type Rotating menu of take-out
Street address 124 South Highland Avenue, East Liberty (2010-2012)
Schenley Plaza (2013-present)[1]
City Pittsburgh
State Pennsylvania
Coordinates 40°10′19.8″N 80°14′48″W / 40.172167°N 80.24667°W / 40.172167; -80.24667

Conflict Kitchen is a take-out restaurant in Pittsburgh that serves only ethnic foods from states with which the United States is in conflict (i.e., members of the "axis of evil" or rogue states).[2] The restaurant only serves food from one nation at a time, changing every six months; the changeover is celebrated with a small festival and music from the new nation.[2] Currently the cuisine of Palestine is on the menu. Since the opening in 2010, the cuisine of Iran, Afghanistan, Cuba, North Korea, and Venezuela have also been featured.[2] The project was described by NPR as "an experimental public art project — and the medium is the sandwich wrap."[3]

In May 2012, it was reported that on a good day, the restaurant would serve between 30 to 50 customers.[4] By 2013, it was serving 100 to 300 daily at the Schenley Plaza location.[5]


Conflict Kitchen is a project by Carnegie Mellon University art professor Jon Rubin and Dawn Weleski.[2] The kitchen is supported by profits from the sale of food, Waffle Shop: A Reality Show, the Benter Foundation, the Center for the Arts in Society, and the Studio for Creative Inquiry.[2] The early stage was supported with a $7,000 seed grant from the Pittsburgh-based Sprout Fund.[6] Each re-design is assisted by members of the local ethnic community in Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.[7]

According to Rubin, "Conflict Kitchen reformats the preexisting social relations of food and economic exchange to engage the general public in discussions about countries, cultures and people that they might know little about outside of the polarizing rhetoric of U.S. politics and the narrow lens of media headlines."[2]

The kitchen was featured on the cover of the September 2012 issue of American Journal of Public Health focused on "Hunger and Health."[8]

The first iteration, Iranian cuisine, was called "Kubideh Kitchen" and featured kubideh; during the Afghan phase, the restaurant was called "Bolani Pazi" and served bolani; the Venezuelan cuisine version was titled "La Cocina Arepas" and served arepas; the Cuban cuisine phase was called "Cocina Cuban" and served lechon asado and yuca con mojo.[9][10] During a trip to Cuba for research, Rubin visited the North Korean embassy in Vedado.[4] He rang the doorbell, unannounced, and was given helpful advice on North Korean cuisine from a diplomat who answered the door.[4]

In 2014 Conflict Kitchen began serving Palestinian cuisine. This choice became controversial and on November 8 the restaurant closed down because police received a death threat against it.[11] Conflict Kitchen reopened November 12 as the police continued to investigate.[12]


The East Liberty location was closed in 2012, with plans to turn the restaurant into a sit down eatery in Downtown Pittsburgh.[13] The move and expansion is supported by a $25,000 Root Award from the Sprout Fund.[6]

In April 2013, a new location opened in Schenley Plaza.[1] The first menu was Iranian, in honor of the June 2013 Iranian presidential election.[1]

As the Iranian "Kubideh Kitchen"
The Schenley Plaza location, decorated for an Afghan menu


  1. ^ a b c McCart, Melissa (March 28, 2013). "Conflict Kitchen reopens in Schenley Plaza". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved April 28, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Conflict Kitchen is a take-out restaurant that only serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict". Official blog. Conflict Kitchen. January 9, 2011. Archived from the original on August 29, 2012. Retrieved August 29, 2012. 
  3. ^ Beras, Erika (July 6, 2010). "A Taste Of Iran, Whipped Up In The 'Conflict Kitchen'". NPR. Retrieved August 29, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c Susman, Tina (May 7, 2012). "Pittsburgh cafe offers cuisine from the U.S. conflict du jour". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 29, 2012. 
  5. ^ Whipple, Amy (July 29, 2013). "Conflict Kitchen a hit in its new Schenley Plaza location". The Sprout Fund. Retrieved September 19, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Moore, Andrew (April 4, 2012). "Conflict Kitchen is moving Downtown, receives $25,000 Sprout Fund Root Award". Pop City Media. Retrieved August 29, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Artists Open "Conflict Kitchen" To Stimulate Dialogue About Countries in Conflict with the U.S.". Carnegie Mellon University. May 12, 2012. Retrieved August 29, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Cover". American Journal of Public Health 102 (9). September 2012. Retrieved August 29, 2012. 
  9. ^ Pawlowski, A. (June 27, 2012). "Conflict Kitchen serves up a dish of world affairs". MSNBC. Retrieved August 29, 2012. 
  10. ^ Sprung, Shlomo (Jun 7, 2012). "This Pittsburgh Eatery Only Serves Food From Countries In Conflict With America". Business Insider. Retrieved August 29, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Conflict Kitchen closes after death threat". Pittsburgh Post Gazette. November 8, 2014. Retrieved November 8, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Conflict Kitchen reopening Oakland restaurant Wednesday". Pittsburgh Post Gazette. November 11, 2014. Retrieved November 11, 2014. 
  13. ^ Brandt, Akasha (May 3, 2012). "Conflict Kitchen to move message of tolerance Downtown". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Point Park News Service). Retrieved August 29, 2012. 

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