Conflict Kitchen is an art and education project that serves food from countries with which the United States is in conflict. In partnership with area restaurants, Conflict Kitchen is piloting a guest immigrant chef program that increases the visibility of and builds empathy with the area’s existing foreign-born population. Beginning in March 2017, targeted local restaurants will feature 1-3 menu items each month developed in collaboration with a recent immigrant or refugee living in Pittsburgh. Guest chefs will work closely with head chefs at each restaurant to adapt recipes from their country of origin to suit the menu of a local restaurant. The menu items will be augmented by printed interviews with each chef describing the personal and cultural significance of the dishes.
Over the last six years, Conflict Kitchen has featured the food, culture and perspectives from Iranian, Afghan, Cuban, North Korean, Palestinian and Syrian individuals living abroad and in Pittsburgh. We are looking for a way to reach wider audiences in new contexts around the Pittsburgh metro area. Uniquely situated to act as a liaison between area restaurants and immigrant and refugee communities, we are seeking funds to collect and publish interviews, and offer honoraria to guest chefs who have immigrated from countries with which the United States is in conflict. Despite escalating reports of violence against immigrants and refugees across the country in the last two months, there is growing support locally for designating Pittsburgh a sanctuary city.
In the first 100 days of the new presidential administration, we must demonstrate that immigrants are, and have always been, vital contributors to the culinary, social, cultural and economic life of Pittsburgh. This initiative will create a broad audience and accessible space for foreign-born Pittsburghers share their lived experiences and food traditions, contributing to a community dialogue about the role of immigrants in Pittsburgh.