Home cooking has now joined Pan Geos and the bread bars as a Yale Dining Services specialty.
Yale’s residential college dining halls adopted a new weekly program, “Recipes from Home,” on Jan. 23. The program features recipes that parents or guardians of Yale students submit to the dining services. The program will continue each Thursday for the next 13 weeks and will feature a “homemade” entree, side dish or dessert.
Director of Dining Services David Davidson brought “Recipes from Home” to the Yale community last spring by implementing it in Berkeley College. Davidson — who worked with a similar program as assistant director of dining services at Harvard University — collaborated with Berkeley Master John Rogers and Berkeley Associate Master Cornelia Pearsall in starting “Recipes from Home.”
Pearsall said the semester-long pilot program added to the Berkeley dining experience.
“It was enormously successful,” Pearsall said. “It gave a festive air to those nights and was always a surprise for the students.”
In fall 2002, Yale Dining Services sent a brochure to all guardians of Yale undergraduates, asking for submissions of each student’s favorite recipe.
“It’s the perfect way to get people’s parents involved,” Pearsall said. “We had parents not only send recipes to the dining service but also to the Master’s house for our personal use.”
Janet D’Agostino, dining service manager of marketing and communications, helped compile and distribute the recipes to the different residential colleges.
“We received over 500 responses from all over the world, and I literally mean all over the world,” D’Agostino said. “We had responses from Thailand, Turkey and Greece, as well as one from every state [in the U.S].”
Yale Dining Services executive chef John Turenne said he initially considered serving one homemade dish in all the colleges, but ultimately decided not to do so.
“We thought it’d be nice to make it specific to every college,” Turenne said. “It created a larger challenge, but we were up to it.”
In December, dining hall managers and staff chose what recipes could be reproduced in large quantities for each particular college.
Davenport dining hall manager Jim Moule said making homemade recipes is difficult because the cooks must take a recipe designed for a small family and make the dish on a much larger scale.
“We must do the math and calculate to serve 100 to 200 portions,” Moule said. “This is difficult to do when we have never tasted the recipe. And there is little time to test the recipe. We must order food and hope things turn out the way Mom fixes it.”
Moule said the staff is concerned about a recipe’s outcome because a student’s name is identified next to the recipe.
“We don’t want people to say, ‘Man, Is this what you mother makes?’ and think it isn’t good,” he said.
When the program kicked off last Thursday, Tai Eyer ’06 was served her favorite bread from home — Indian Rolls — in Pierson College. After tasting the bread, friends surrounded her with approving comments.
“If God came down in the form of a roll, that would be it,” Jesse Boateng ’06 said.
But Mary Eyer, Tai’s mother, was skeptical.
“When Tai told me she received an e-mail saying the recipe would be served, I was fearful, and I did not want Tai to put her name by them,” Mary Eyer said. “But I held my breath and Tai finally called me and reported that they were done very well. It was so pleasing to me. People usually cannot make them without my walking them through it. I commend [the dining hall staff] for doing such a good job.”
Turenne personally visited each dining hall Thursday and tasted the different “homemade” recipes.
“The staffs went the extra mile,” Turenne said. “For example, when I visited Pierson, the staff was still cooking rolls and literally pulling them out of the oven in shifts so they might be warm as students came in. Each staff did a tremendous job. I’m so proud of them.”
Davidson said he has further plans for the program.
“We intend to take recipes from this and put them on the regular menu,” he said. “We would also like to put all the recipes together and make a cookbook.”