What do you get when you combine one part pop eatery and one part political statement?
You get some conflict in the kitchen.
While brainstorming one day, the directors of Pittsburgh’s Waffle Shop, a restaurant that also produces a live streaming talk show with its customers, had a rather odd idea.
"What if we created another restaurant that competed with our own?" the concept’s co-creator Dawn Weleski, asked herself.
And thus Conflict Kitchen was born.
Unlike most restaurants, the food at the Conflict Kitchen is a revolving door of international dishes featuring cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict.The name of the restaurant also changes when the cuisine does.
As Weleski explained to Fox News Latino, when her and her partner started naming the kind of food Pittsburgh lacked, “We realized that we were naming cuisines from countries with which the U.S. government maintains a conflict.”
And the idea was born: “In a nutshell, that was the light bulb moment.”
Along with expanding the city’s culinary offering, the creators also wanted to turn the way the food is presented into a political statement.
“As a way to create a more in-depth discussion, the food comes wrapped in interviews that we've done with people in that country and those that have immigrated to the U.S.,” Weleski said.
So far, the response in the community has been positive, the eatery owners said.
Along with support for the concept, “there's a great deal of interest in our public events and programming that provide a deeper conversation about the countries that we focus on.”
As the restaurants points out on their website, “the thoughts and opinions that come through the interviews are often contradictory and complicated by personal perspective and history.”
Every six months, the take-out only eatery changes their menu in regards to the country’s political climate.
So far the restaurant has served Iranian, Afghan, Venezuelan, and Cuban offerings with North Korea, Palestinian and Israeli cuisine next on the list.
Currently serving over 300 customers daily and open seven days a week, the Conflict Kitchen also orchestrates public programs that combine food and in-depth conversation for an international audience.
One of the Kitchen’s sell-out events is its Skype dinner parties between customers and people living in the conflict areas.
So far, young professionals in Iran, documentary filmmakers in Afghanistan, and community radio activists in Venezuela have all interacted with Conflict Kitchen diners.
Despite the concept being this restaurant’s main attraction, the food does not appear to disappoint.
“Since bringing our culinary director, Robert Sayre, to our team, we've really stepped up the quality of our food.
According to Weleski, the cuisines that really have people wanting more are Iranian and Cuban dishes.
Operating on a micro menu, all the Cuban dishes, including Cristianos y Moros, Lechon Asado, and Yuca con Mojo, were very popular.
Yet the owners remain realistic that they serve a certain niche crowd, highly interested in U.S. foreign policy and international relations as dinner fodder.
“We're fortunate that we're very busy with our current location, said Weleski. "We don't currently have the resources to expand to other locations.”