First-year students treated to a holiday culinary spectacle at Yale On York

A group of Yale students pose at the annual First-Year Holiday Dinner.
Students enjoying the First Year Holiday Dinner, held for the first time at Yale On York since Commons is closed for renovations.

Commons is closed for renovations, but certain traditions that have historically been held there are still being preserved. This month, the annual First-Year Holiday Dinner took place at the new Yale On York venue for the first time, and by all accounts was a success.

The Yale Class of 2021, divided into two groups, took part in the holiday tradition over the course of two separate nights on Dec. 8th and Dec. 9th. The festivities included the popular “Parade of Comestibles” halfway through each evening.

Students arrived dressed to the nines, ready to create memories. They raised their phones high in the air for picture taking, and many of their jaws dropped when the backdoors opened and drummers took the room by storm. The procession began with a 10-foot-long challah bread, followed by mountains of turkey legs, endless slices of beef Wellington, a Y-shaped Yule log, and an ice sleigh loaded with shrimp. Desserts from the Yale Bakery were also among the treats, including a crowd favorite: raspberry mousse tartes that had many students going back for seconds.

The food was beautifully presented by very friendly staff,” Dan Nguyen ’21 said. “It was a great occasion to catch up with old friends and make new ones.” 

The first-year dinner was all I was told to expect and more,” commented Laura Koech ’21. “I have just one word to say about the presentation: magnificent. I enjoyed myself thoroughly!”

Upper class students in attendance said that the dinner in Yale On York rivaled their own first-year holiday meals in Commons in prior years.

The 2017 First-Year Holiday Dinner was absolutely refreshing!” Faith Chumo ’20 said. “We all miss Commons terribly, but there was just something amazing about the space at 150 York that gave the event a very modern and crisp vibe. I also enjoyed the fact that the event was split into two groups. It gave everyone a more intimate setting to make new acquaintances and reduced the waiting time to get into the building or get food.”

There was something for everyone, from the holiday décor and music piped in over the new, state-of-the-art sound system to a menu that took student nutritional and allergy needs into account. The dinner was a team effort, on behalf of Yale Hospitality, pulling together Dining and Catering to create the memorable student event.

Senior Director of Yale Dining Adam Millman said, “The absence of Commons allowed us the opportunity to reimagine the format of the First-Year Holiday Celebration. It was important to preserve memorable moments like the Parade of Comestibles, while creating new traditions that made this celebration just as special as past ones. At the end of each night, seeing the excitement on the students’ faces reassured us that this year’s dining team once again helped create lasting memories.”    

Christian Fischer, senior director of Auxiliary, Catering, and the Culinary Support Center, said, “My team and the Yale Dining team went above and beyond for this event, from the decorations to the food and the Comestibles. I am confident that everyone who attended will be carrying this dinner with them for a long, long time.”

With Commons closed for renovations for the next three years, Yale On York has become the go-to venue for departmental holiday parties, the upcoming Yale Model United Nations Conference, faculty dinners, and more.

The Yale Classes of 2022 and 2023 will also be able to eagerly anticipate the First-Year Holiday Dinner at Yale On York, which has been serving as a temporary space for campus events during the renovations of Commons and the Schwarzman Center.

Yale Hospitality has earned a national reputation for its nutrition and wellness programs; catering services; and for being an industry leader for sustainability in food sourcing and production, culinary authenticity, and quality and supply chain management. It serves 27 residential and retail dining operations across the campus. Yale Hospitality accommodates those with special dietary and nutritional needs, and provides a variety of support services for events and programs offered by Yale.