Photos by Christopher Huang

For Heights Ramen, a popular campus event that celebrated Japanese culture and cuisine and offered students an immersive dining experience, Boston College Dining Services has won a prestigious Gold Award from the National Association of College and University Food Services.

The Dining Awards are “the ultimate professional tribute in college and university culinary arts," according to NACUFS, whose mission to support and promote excellence in collegiate dining. BCDS received the organization’s 2020 Loyal E. Horton Dining Award—for a large institution in the category of Catering Special Events—which honors a campus event “executed with notable touches and with an original feel to it.”

Inspired by a BC chef who traveled to Japan to study the cuisine and tea culture, Heights Ramen transformed the Walsh Hall Player’s Club into a Tokyo-style ramen shop to celebrate the quintessential street food.

Heights Ramen diners

In addition to authentic ambiance, care was taken in the menu development to help students feel as if they were traveling in Tokyo, walking down the famous ramen street, Omoide Yokocho, organizers noted. The event featured four different types of ramen, three types of yakitori (grilled meat), and liquid nitrogen matcha ice cream paired with crispy, sweet Japanese butter cookies. The concept was a hit with students, as the pop-up restaurant sold out to more than 200 diners.

“After all that Dining Services has endured during the pandemic, notification of this NACUFS Gold prize in the catering category is a bright light at the end of a long tunnel,” said Associate Vice President of Auxiliary Services Patricia Bando.

“Notable is that this event exemplified the culinary cultural diversity capabilities of this catering team," she said, " as well as their skill to pivot during the pandemic, since these same team members were cooking and delivering thousands of quarantine and isolation meals while special campus catered events were dormant for 15 months. Bravo to this marvelous team.”  

Heights Ramen diner

Heights Catering hosted Heights Ramen on February 20, 2020. Director of Dining Services Beth Emery praised the team for the success of the award-winning pop-up—one of the last special events to be held on campus prior to the pandemic.

“I am incredibly proud. It was an exceptional event that received raves from students,” said Emery. “Every detail was considered and Heights Catering had wonderful collaborations with the student group Japan Club, a manager in a Japanese market in Medford, our student dining interns, and the Art, Art History, and Film Department.”

On a daily basis, Heights Catering services hundreds of events across campus. In recent years, the pop-up restaurant concept has become a tradition which brings students together around food, community, and culture. The goal is to create a dining experience that students do not find on campus every day, and to serve as a creative outlet for the talented culinary team.

Named for a NACUFS founder and past president, the Loyal E. Horton Dining Awards celebrate exemplary menus, presentations, special event planning, and new dining concepts, and provide an avenue for sharing ideas and creative presentations in campus dining services. In 2020, 58 North American member institutions submitted entries in six categories.


Rosanne Pellegrini | University Communications | July 2021