Conflict Kitchen is a restaurant that represents unity and collaboration throughout the world. This restaurant serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict. Conflict Kitchen is augmented by events, performances, publications, and discussions that seek to expand public engagement with culture, politics, and issues at stake within the focus region.
Recently, Conflict Kitchen celebrated Juneteenth Friday and Saturday and the Juneteenth Lunch Hour.
Juneteenth is a celebration of the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865 and enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation by the United States government. It was the last state to receive the news that the Civil War was over and that the Union had won.
What made the “Lunch Hour” event special was that six Pittsburgh Chefs were present to share cuisine and celebrate over good eats.
The chefs present at the event were, Malik Hamilton, Monique Woodson, Ngai Wharff, Gerald Parker, Torie Day, and Cheyanne Bronzell.
Malik Hamilton is a father of four beautiful children. He was born in Wilmington, N.C. and raised in Casper, Wy. Hamilton started in the food service industry in April 1995 at a now closed Italian Restaurant in Casper called Anthony’s, where he started his career as a dishwasher. A few short months later, Hamilton was moved up to prep cook, and by January was on line for lunch service. Hamilton is a graduate student in Food Sevices Program at Chatham University. His course of study focuses on food policy and access, as well as cultural representations of food. To date: Hamilton has a 20-year culinary background and once he has completed his Master’s degree hopes to continue his educational studies in public policy and sociology.
“If you want to know a person’s experience walk a mile in their shoes,” Hamilton said, “If you know about their deepest values and beliefs dine at their table.”
Monique Woodson first began her lifetime journey as a chef, at an early age. As a child she enjoyed helping her mother in the kitchen. “At the age of 5 my mom pulled a stool up to the stove and showed me how to fry my first egg.” Since that very moment, Woodson has been hooked on cooking and its been history ever since.
Woodson said that cooking was her mother’s way of teaching her responsibility. At a later age, her mom made her responsible for cooking for her entire family once every week. From grocery shopping, to recipes, to prep work, Woodson handled it all. And watching her family members enjoy each and every bite, kept her passion going.
Her favorite dish to create is macaroni and cheese. To date; Woodson enjoys creating meals through her company “Indulge” from all genres of food; Soul Food, Mexican Food, Seafood, and etc. She currently operates out of her Brookline home where she sells meals every Friday, and is available to cater events.
“Indulge offers a wide selection of dishes weekly,” Woodson said. “As individual tastes run a wide range so do the prepared meals that are available through Indulge. Indulge offers a wide selection of choices from the comfortingly familiar to the culinary adventurous.”
Facebook: Indulge With Mo
Ngai Wharff from Trinidad and Tobago, currently residing in Shadyside, first started creating dishes around 1996. Wharff later won a Beastley Weber Grill in a Hot Dog competition. The award from this cooking competition marked the official birth of his career. He has been a dedicated member of the Food Service Industry for 24 years, and what drives him is the appreciation that people share while dinning.
Wharff has a universal style of cooking. His all time favorite dishes to create are Fillet Stuffed Lobster with spiced vanilla butter, lamb lollipops, butter, brown sugar, cashew encrusted grilled pineapples with Coconut milk iced cream. While his fan favorite is Taco Wings with fondued cheese dipping sauce.
“I’ve grown up around some of the most amazing people and I’ve learned from all of them. My skill set comes from my family, including friends,“ Wharff said,
Gerald Parker, dedicated cook, husband, and father of three; started bringing masterpieces to life around the age of 12. His parents divorced at the age of 14, and Parker quickly assumed the male leadership role of his mother’s household. He learned how to cook from his mother, learned how to grill from his father, and learned how to smoke meats while he was in the service. In God’s Hands Catering is Parker’s catering company ran by him and his wife, Nakia Parker.
The catering company is known for its mouth watering smoked meats, and the fan favorite is smoked ribs. Parker is a licensed minister, and believes his cooking is a part of his ministry to the world. Current resident of Garden City, and member of Mount Ararat Baptist Church he currently operates the business from home.
In God’s Hands Catering began in 2000 when Parker and his wife catered their entire wedding reception. Today, Parker and his wife keep busy by continuing to prepare delicious smoked meats, macaroni and cheese, string beans, and more for the people.
“Throughout the community, I am also referred to as the ‘No Sauce Boss,’ because people enjoy my smoked ribs so much that they don’t need sauce. I’m so humbled and blessed to be doing something that brings joy and happiness to my life and others, alongside my best friend/life partner,“ Parker said.
Facebook: IGH412 CATERING
Torie Day started using the stove at age 9. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, from the Homewood neighborhood. Coming from a household where a mother cooked big breakfasts and a three course meal every night. She would enjoy observing her mother work in the kitchen, and learned how to cook herself from watching her mother. Day decided to become a Chef the day it hit her how much she loves food and the craft. To date, Day specializes in high quality Southern Cuisine or Soul Food.
Without using pork in any of her recipes, she is inspired by Italian, Asian, Caribbean, and American cuisine. Her favorite dish to create is anything that allows her to bring her creative cooking style to life. However, her fan favorite dish is turkey lasagna, macaroni and cheese, Potatoe Salad, cobbler, and apple pie. Day is available in the city to provide catering services.
“It’s important that I provide healthy food for the soul. Food that is fulfilling yet nutritional. Reinventing the way traditional soul foods are prepared to keep us healthy is very important to me. Whatever you do… have a well a balanced diet and love what you do, eat to live, and do things from the soul,“ Day said.
Facebook: Day La’ Soul Catering
Cheyanne Bronzell was born in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, grew up in Garfield and is Chef/Owner of PhatGirlzCookinLLC. She started cooking at the age of 11, but realized she wanted to pursue a professional career in this field 10 years ago. Her dream and goal is to transform her home-based catering business into a food-truck, which would service the homeless and hungry.
Bronzell mastered Italian gravy at the age of eleven after being taught by her grandmother, around the same time she started creating master meals in the kitchen. Her favorite dish to create is lasagna, she enjoys that lasagna can be prepared in several different ways and can be personalized with Bronzell’s touch. She enjoys cooking food from many ethnic backgrounds, but specializes in soul food. While her fan favorite dish is macaroni and cheese and potatoe salad. Bronzell is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She hopes to pursue popular television cooking contests such as, Hell’s Kitchen and MasterChef to wow Master Ramsey and viewers with her skills.
“I am very passionate about food, and it is important that every person that takes a bite out of my food is satisfied. My dream is to one day operate from a food truck that services the homeless and hungry community. This would create an opportunity for everyone to enjoy a delicious meal,” Bronzell said,
Facebook: Phat Girlz Cookin
Creative Director, LaToya Williams initiated the conversation with Conflict Kitchen regarding the Juneteenth Menu. The idea was proposed to the co-director of Conflict Kitchen, Dawn Weleski.
“It was through my work with members of the community and commitment to meaningful community engagement that I thought this day was necessary,” Wiliams said.
Conflict Kitchen uses the social relations of food and economic exchange to engage the general public in discussions about countries, cultures, and people that many know little about.
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