UMass Dining Wins More National Recognition



Source: UMass News & Media

UMass Dining has won gold in the “Innovative Dining Program” category for the Loyal E. Horton Award presented by the National Association of College & University Food Services (NACUFS), the ultimate professional accolade in college and university dining that celebrates exemplary menus, memorable dining experiences, special events and new dining concepts.

For its competition entry, the UMass Dining team presented an in-depth overview of its programs, its priorities and their positive effect on the UMass student experience. The team highlighted its efforts in areas of innovation, menus, marketing, procurement, vision and overall campus impact, with a specific focus on UMass Dining’s value, experience and authenticity.

“I am very proud of this team and the program we have built together,” says Executive Director of Auxiliary Enterprises Ken Toong. “This award is representative of the hard work all our dedicated team members showcase daily. We are blessed with the best team in the world and awards like this reinforce this fact.”

UMass Dining will now be in the running for the grand category prize at the NACUFS National Conference in July. 

UMass Dining also recently claimed silver at the American Culinary Federation’s (ACF) collegiate competition, held during the 30th annual Chef Culinary Conference hosted by UMass Amherst June 2-7.

The UMass Amherst team, which scored a total of 87.5 in the competition, featured chefs Jeff MacDonald, Ashwin Bangalore, Patrick Redmond and Marta Prylowska. The chefs tested their skills against 12 other college and university culinary teams of four from across the United States including Cornell University, U.C. San Diego, the University of North Texas and Skidmore College.

Each team was required to prepare a four-course meal, including a buffet style item to be served to the judges and competing teams. UMass Amherst led with a chickpea-crusted tempeh with tofu-stuffed morel mushrooms, followed by a lobster mousse-crusted steelhead trout with tarragon lobster cream. Their dessert was a pomegranate honey mousse cake with turmeric mango sorbet, and the buffet item was a peppercorn-crusted hanger steak with au poivre sauce. Teams had two hours to prepare and serve the first three courses and one hour for the buffet item.

Check out video from the competition here.

“This year’s competition was a testament to the consistent elevation of collegiate dining year after year,” said Toong, who served as co-chair of the Chef Culinary Conference. “I’m extremely proud of our competing team and our conference team – we are blessed with a rich variety of talent. This year has been our most successful and positions us to deliver an even better experience next year.”

This annual ACF competition is the concluding event of the Chef Culinary Conference, regarded as the premiere gathering for food service professionals to learn about the latest scientific findings in nutrition, flavor trends, culinary education and technological know-how. The conference aims to bring food service concepts into the next generation, embracing nutrition, sustainability and food ethics to meet the increasing diversity of consumers’ preferences. 

“This conference is a testament to continual improvement as we look to elevate campus dining across America. We’ve given the opportunity for college dining chefs to come and learn from the very best in the industry,” said Alexander Ong, director of culinary excellence at UMass Amherst.

UMass Amherst will host the 31st Chef Culinary Conference June 8-13, 2025.

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