Conflict Kitchen

Pittsburgh, Pa (2010-2017)

Collaboration with Dawn Weleski


Conflict Kitchen was a restaurant/art project/non-profit that served cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict. In addition to serving hundreds of people each day, we worked with people living in each country we focused on, as well as local expats, to produce everything from publications and performances to film festivals and school curriculum in order to expand the engagement the public has with the culture, politics, and issues at stake within each focus region. The restaurant rotated identities roughly every six months, or in relation to current geopolitical events.

Operating seven days a week in the middle of the city, Conflict Kitchen used the 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 governmental politics and the narrow lens of media headlines.  In this way, the project functioned as a “front-door intervention,” inserting politically challenging counter-narratives into the stream of public life through the commonly understood mechanism of a commercial business. In addition, the restaurant created a constantly changing site for the recognition of ethnic diversity in the post-industrial city of Pittsburgh, as it has presented the only Iranian, Afghan, Venezuelan, North Korean, Haudenosaunne and Palestinian restaurants the city had ever seen.

Co-founders and directors: Jon Rubin and Dawn Weleski

Culinary Director: Robert Sayre, Graphic Designer: Brett Yasko