Each month brings cause for many celebrations, but there’s nothing like February. Yale Hospitality kicked off the month with an annual Lunar New Year dinner, and we were gearing up to celebrate Black History all month long, but something a little different happened this year.
Yale University follows the college system to foster 14 tight-knit college communities with their own identities and cultures, where students live throughout all four years on campus. Within each of these colleges are nestled our dining halls — yes, 14 individual dining halls!
This year, all 14 dining hall teams hosted special dinners to commemorate Black History Month through their culture, heritage and pride. Our team made sure to ‘honor the past’ with recipes that grandparents passed down to them from Jamaica, Haiti, Sierra Leone, and ‘celebrate the future’ with innovative twists to traditional favorites from Fried Ribs and Drizzled Banana Pudding. Throughout our interviews, one comment that kept coming up is that Black History Month isn’t bound to one month — it’s every day! We hope you’ll join us in celebrating these stories and heritage not just in February, but year-round.
“Our team represents the faces and names which welcome, nurture and support Yale students each day. It was really important to put the spotlight on our amazing dining hall teams who brought a unique passion to meals which don’t necessarily appear on our regular menus — bringing a unique taste of their story and heritage to campus. Because of this, we were able to bring this celebration to life in only the way our college communities can,” shared Jovan Bloise, Culinary Excellence Manager at Davenport.
The impact that these dinners had on our student community struck a chord, and was felt widely throughout the colleges. One student visited Davenport and shared with us on Instagram:
“It was amazing! As a Jamaican student, I really appreciated it! My friends also loved it!! The beef patties, oxtail and carrot juice were hits!”
A Team Effort — Thank You!
MAJOR thanks to all of our team members who poured love and passion into each of these meals & the culinary, production, operations and administrative teams who supported making them a reality.
Take a glimpse at this celebration of our team members and representations of the pride they carry in being Black each day.
Karen was so proud to bring her traditional Jamaican flavors to Branford and Saybrook. Do you see that bright smile?! These are the beloved students she cares for every day, and she felt so honored to bring a taste of her cuisine to the dining hall.
“Memories of growing up with my grandmother inspired this [Jerk Chicken recipe]. She taught me how to cook at a young age, age 10, and all the Jamaican traditions.” — Jenn, GSA, Davenport
“As a first-generation American, my parents are from Jamaica. Cooking and food is how I carry on their story and legacy — without it ending with me.” — Jovan, Culinary Excellence Manager, Davenport
“Black History Month is a reminder of how far we’ve come and how far we’re going. My country and my Haitian culture inspired my dish [Haitian Griot]. It’s all about community, bringing people together during a family meal, party or celebration. I’m proud to share it with you!” — Diderot, Third Cook, Berkeley
“When I came up with [my chili recipe] I was at Trumbull. I love cooking, and to be able to cook no matter what my position was, was great. I love food so it inspired me to come up with my own creativity and my chili won second place the first time I entered it!” — Tyranita, Cook’s Helper, Hopper
“Black History Month is every day to me — I love the skin I’m in! The dish [Pulled Pork] I’m making is inspired by my grandfather who used to make it all the time when I was a kid.” — Carolyn, Pantry & Desk Attendant, Trumbull
“Black History Month is EVERY day — it should be celebrated each day. I’m proud to share my dish with TD — I love Fried Ribs! It’s not a common dish, so I’m excited to bring that experience to you!” — Crystal, Third Cook, Timothy Dwight
“I love to bake so much! You’ve never had banana pudding like this before! I know you’ll enjoy innovative twist on a classic.” — Kadeshia, GSA, Timothy Dwight
“Have you ever had a plate with mac & cheese and candied yams next to each other? The best combo ever! With my soul food pie, you get the sweet and savory at it’s best. I hope that future generations have more positive energy and well-being goals are set among everyone — no matter [their] race or gender.” — Ron, Cook’s Helper, Franklin & Murray
“I celebrate Black History every day by leaving a legacy, making an impact now as a stepping stone for the future. My African Stew’s individual ingredients [with Salema’s Fufu] marry to create unique flavor profiles.” — Brandon, Second Cook, Franklin & Murray
“I hope future generations will continue to leave a legacy we can all be proud of. My mom is from Sierra Leone and she’s my inspiration to share this [Fufu] dish. She always kept us connected through food, stories and traditions.” — Salema, Guest Experience Manager, Franklin & Murray
“I make my ancestors proud by showing love and standing my ground; teaching my kids to keep smiling and further their education. I hope they continue to fight like Rosa Parks and Dr. King!” — Kim, Cook’s Helper, Franklin & Murray
“I hope that we not only keep growing as Black people, but all people: despite race, religion, skin color or anything else that people use to divide.” — Tashena, Cook’s Helper, Franklin & Murray
Interviews by: Jasmine Lorenzo, Natalie Sangngam, Maxwell Yee, Emme Zhou
Photos by: David Zheng, Christelle Ramos, Yale Hospitality Managers