Most students can tell you when chicken tenders are served in the dining hall, but far fewer know where those chicken tenders come from. An ongoing Yale Dining initiative aims to connect students with more information about the sources of their food and spur interest in sustainability.

One installment in the new initiative, called “Food Conversations,” took place last October at the Schwarzman Center. Four guest chefs shared what they know about food, where it comes from and how it affects us with a crowd of students before preparing a multi-course dinner for those present. The four chefs specialized in a range of cuisines — from pastries to Indian food — and have cooked for high-profile restaurants, prestigious hotels and even game shows.

The Food Conversations are just one component of a series of events Yale Dining puts on to increase knowledge about where food comes from and sustainability among students. Over the years, Yale Dining has hosted events ranging from cheese tastings to tours at the Yale Farm, which are “designed to educate, and create excitement and engagement around issues related to food and food systems,” according to Alison Walkley, senior marketing and communications manager for Yale Hospitality.

Walkley said she is proud that local restaurants like Miya’s, Thali and ZINC have run many of these events because that level of participation reflects Yale Dining’s commitment to working with the New Haven community.

“When opportunities arise to partner with local businesses and vendors, [Yale Dining] will develop an event with them,” Walkley said. “Our objective, through conversations with chefs and restaurateurs, is to create opportunities for exchange of ideas and learning regarding food, health and nutrition, as well as sustainability when it comes to sourcing our food.”

Similar to the collaboration with restaurants, the farm tours run by Yale Dining represent a way to engage with local business owners.

Several students interviewed told the News they enjoyed the farm tours, which offer an opportunity to learn about Yale’s sustainability efforts.

“I got to learn about the huge impact that different farmers and farms have on our consumption and our lives,” Naeha Pathak ’21 shared.

Students on the tours heard from farm owners about their businesses and also had the opportunity to work on the farm. Others tours took place at apple orchards and provided participants with the chance to pick their own fruits and vegetables.

As much as some students have enjoyed these foodie events, others are not as interested. Talus Iorio-Ronek ’21 said he heard about the events in Yale Dining emails, but none interested him.

“I’d probably consider going if more of my friends did,” Iorio-Ronek explained.

Still, YCC Events Coordinator Tyler Bleuel ’19 told the News that many events that most of the events Yale Dining hosts with YCC’s help fill up very quickly. Bleuel said the YCC runs registration for some of these events and helps get the word out to students.

Walkley said she and the YCC planned the events to ensure that the programs are “practical, real-life examples focusing on sustainability, nutritional content, health, food, cuisine diversity and food access.” Pathak said she believes the events have succeeded in this regard.

“It gave me a reason to be more conscious when I’m eating and think about where my food is coming from,” she said of the foodie event she attended.

Participation for Yale Dining food events is first come, first served, as seating at the events is limited.

Clare Morneau |

Correction, Nov. 1: A previous version of this article said that the “Food Conversations” event at the Schwarzman Center took place last week. In fact, it took place last October.