The Yale Food Culture

Yale Hospitality is focused on providing quality meals, but also on ensuring a culture that is educational, fun, and supportive of personal and campus life.

Every college dining program has to make sure that students, visitors and employees have numerous meal options available on campus. But Yale’s food program is about much more than simply fulfilling that basic responsibility.

It starts with the idea that food is so basic to the human experience that it can affect our students’ lives in ways that go well beyond each day’s nutritional “pit stops.” For us, food is not about meal “consumption.” It is about creating dining experiences that build community and enhance campus life. At Yale, dining is a 300 year-old tradition and one we work hard to continue and improve upon every day.

“It’s also about building a culture which has food that’s flavorful, fresh and that is professionally prepared and delivered,” says Director of Culinary Excellence and Quality Assurance Ron De Santis, CMC.

“It means creating food that is well-seasoned, made from sustainable and minimally-processed ingredients, and that is good for you. It means ensuring that our culinary staff gets the training to continuously improve its culinary skills and execution. And it means bringing authentic flavors, traditions and tastes from around the world to our menus.”

As one of only 69 certified master chefs in the country and a former director from the Culinary Institute of America, De Santis personifies those goals in many ways. In practice he is all hands-on, working with YD’s culinary staff every day to improve the food offered in Yale’s dining halls, retail operations and at catered events. Another important part of his job is to ensure that the production processes in Yale’s kitchens, bakery and Culinary Support Center reflect industry best practices for food safety and quality assurance. And you will find him serving as a Yale food culture advocate both on campus and throughout the college dining and foodservice communities.

At Yale, the food culture is also about having fun and enjoying food as a shared experience with one’s colleagues. You’ll see that in our special events, like our nationally known Final Cut competition; the residential Foodie Dinners we plan and execute with college masters; and our Guest Chef program that brings chefs of national renown to the Yale campus for special demos, training programs and events.

On the education front, Yale Dining’s menus emphasize how flavorful dining can also be good for you. Efforts like our Salt Reduction, Plant-Based Protein, Catch of the Day and Local 2 Yale initiatives look to encourage healthful dining habits that students can carry with them throughout their lives. And programs like Reality Bites offer insights into practical matters like preparing your own meals when you live independently, understanding wine and food pairing, and learning the basics of dinner etiquette in a business environment.

“We have the privilege and opportunity to have an impact on people’s lives three times a day,” says De Santis. “It’s our responsibility to make sure it is a positive impact, one that can help compensate for a difficult day or help them celebrate a day’s successes.”

That’s the essence of the Yale Dining philosophy and its Food Culture.