Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Conflict Kitchen Islamic Center of Pittsburgh Will Recognize the Kitchen's Work in Engaging the International Community

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Conflict Kitchen Islamic Center of Pittsburgh Will Recognize the Kitchen's Work in Engaging the International Community

Article excerpt

Three years ago, Pittsburgh didn't have a single Venezuelan restaurant. There was no spot to order from an Iranian menu, nowhere to eat Afghani food on a meal out.

Three years ago, co-founder Jon Rubin, 49, of Point Breeze, opened Conflict Kitchen as a simple take-out window in East Liberty with his partner Dawn Weleski. Since then, and they have offered menus from all three of those cuisines in an effort to familiarize Pittsburgh with the cultures of countries with which the United States is in conflict.

On Sunday, the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh will recognize the work Conflict Kitchen, now located in Schenley Plaza, has done since its opening to engage the international community. Chef Robert Sayre will accept an award for the kitchen Sunday during the Center's Humanity Day ceremony.

"The concept of the restaurant is just for two cultures to become more familiar, just to learn more about the citizens of that country and their day-to-day lives, their food and their culture," Mr. Sayre, 33, of Stanton Heights, said.

"People are people even though our governments may have disputes."

Julie Webb, outreach coordinator at the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, said Conflict Kitchen expands ethnic food options for eaters in the city as it rotates through new menus from foreign countries every few months. But Conflict Kitchen will receive one of 11 awards to be presented this weekend because, like all of those to be honored, the restaurant works to create a sense of welcome among the global community in Pittsburgh.

"[Conflict Kitchen] is a bridge-building opportunity for Pittsburghers to learn about an Islamic country," Ms. Webb said. "I bought food there when they were featuring Afghanistan, so it's really dear to our hearts whenever people are promoting bridge- building opportunities to understand countries that are largely Islamic. It's endearing to us."

Mr. Sayre said the Center and Conflict Kitchen work toward a similar goal in Pittsburgh -- breaking down stereotypes that exist about countries like Iran and Afghanistan that are in conflict with the United States.

"The outreach that the Muslim community in the U. …

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