PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio1020 KDKA) – A local restaurant is serving up dishes from nations in conflict, and it’s causing a controversy.

Conflict Kitchen in Schenley Plaza latest menu features Palestinian food.

The Jewish community of Pittsburgh has taken offense to the cuisine selection, some headlines suggesting it only presents a one sided discussion towards the Middle East.

The idea of the food hot spot came from the desire to draw attention to cuisine options from counties influences aren’t always represented in the culinary world.

Jon Rubin, one of the founders of Conflict Kitchen joined Bill Rehkopf on the KDKA Afternoon News to talk about ironically, the controversy its bringing to it’s Schenley Plaza location.

“The idea 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,” Rubin said, “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.”

Rubin said it was meant to generate conversations about different cultures and help to learn and respect the influences of others in our area. He wanted people to be able to have a different perspective on countries that we either politically or from the media view as “enemies”.

Gregg Roman, Director of Community Relations Council at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, “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.”

Rubin isn’t worried by Roman’s opinion explaining he was a participant at a public even the Conflict Kitchen held where he spoke freely and contributed to the different view points expressed, which is the main purpose of the Conflict Kitchen.

“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 said.

Despite the blow back from some in the community Rubin tells KDKA that this menu seems to already be very popular with their customers.

“We’ve had 300 people each day, Monday and Tuesday, we opened on Monday and people are super excited and we’ve been very fortunate we’ve got a great base of customers who like to come to all the versions we do,” Rubin said.

Conflict Kitchen has served food from Afghanistan, North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela.

Dishes from nations in conflict typically are served in rotations that last between three and five months.

You can find out more information about Conflict Kitchen by clicking here.

You can hear the whole interview with Jon Rubin here now!

Listen to the KDKA Afternoon News with Bill Rehkopf weekdays 3-7pm.

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