Yale Hospitality honored with prestigious national dining award

May 16, 2023

New Haven, Conn. — The National Association of College & University Food Services (NACUFS) has awarded Yale Hospitality with a gold level NACUFS 2023 Loyal E. Horton Dining Award in the catering category for the Yale Schwarzman Center Appreciation Event held in November 2022.

The dining awards, which are named for a NACUFS founder, past president, and highly regarded innovator, celebrate exemplary menus, presentations, special event planning, and new dining concepts, while providing an avenue for sharing ideas and creative presentations in collegiate dining.

The premier intersection of student life, dining, and the arts at Yale University thrives at the Yale Schwarzman Center. To celebrate the re-opening of the center following a five year renovation, Yale leaders rolled out the blue carpet last November to welcome 300 guests at the Yale Schwarzman Center Appreciation.

“This award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our team, who, in alignment with President Salovey’s mission and vision, tirelessly strive to create exceptional dining experiences at every turn,” shared Rafi Taherian, associate vice president for Yale Hospitality.

“We are grateful to the generous donors’ support which enables us to bring to life celebrations and daily activities which reflect the Center’s mission of promoting inclusivity and belonging on campus. Thank you to NACUFS for this recognition, and to our team for their unwavering dedication.”

University leaders, students, and guests alike acknowledged that The Yale Schwarzman Center team created a night that will go down in history by seamlessly weaving together the historic 1901 building’s grandeur and innovative touches. The event’s theme amplified the Center’s mission to “Break Bread, Break Boundaries” by uniting and promoting collaboration among the diverse Yale community.

“We are extremely proud of the Schwarzman Center, which sparks joy and provides connection day in and day out in the lives of our students and university community members. From our opening appreciation event to the culinary activities, arts and culture offerings, watch parties, dance parties, and dialogues that have taken place since, the Schwarzman Center is consistently bringing people together, lifting spirits, feeding souls, and building community on campus. We are grateful to NACUFS for recognizing the passion that so many individuals and teams dedicated to fulfilling the mission and promise of the Schwarzman Center,” said Rachel Fine, executive director of Yale Schwarzman Center.

At the event, guests broke bread together on a flavorful journey through sustainable elements of autumn in New England. Using a balance of cultural-inspiration and locally-sourced ingredients, the menu included locally grown greens and foraged mushrooms, and innovative Hamachi crudo on crisp rice. Lush tablescapes and floral arrangements adorned the legendary Commons dining room with warm tones to mirror the center’s color palette. Aerial performers and student musicians entertained guests — as did singer-songwriter John Legend, one of the few entertainers to receive an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards — who made a surprise appearance. The immersive experience celebrated the culinary offerings and the vision to foster connections that transcend boundaries. Integral to Yale, the Center sets a model for excellence in campus dining, student life, and humanity.

NACUFS member institutions across North America submitted entries in six categories: residential dining concepts; residential dining facility; residential dining special events and retail sales; single concept/multiple concepts/marketplace; catering, including for special events; and online menu.

Robert Nelson, NACUFS chief executive officer, noted the exemplary quality of award submissions this year.

“In honoring recipients of the NACUFS 2023 Loyal E. Horton Dining Awards, we acknowledge the tireless efforts and unwavering dedication of the exceptional individuals and teams who elevate the standard of campus dining across North America,” he said. “Their innovative approaches and unparalleled passion for culinary excellence demonstrate the unequivocal value of campus dining, along with the community, health and well-being it fosters among college students. We proudly congratulate our winners on their outstanding achievements.”