The UMass Official State Dinner: A night to celebrate our seniors

The UMass Official State Dinner: A night to celebrate our seniors

(Link to Flyer)

At UMass Dining Services, we are fortunate to have more than 16,000 students and staff on the meal plan. Among them, 3,368 are seniors. It is unusual for any school to have so many seniors on the meal plan, but it’s the new normal at UMass.

We care about all of our students. We listen to their feedback and strive to improve. Just yesterday afternoon near our food truck site in the Southwest Café area—a very busy spot—a senior named Mark approached me. He had suggestions for how we serve grilled chicken in the DCs, down to the choice of pan we use to store the chicken and how to keep the meat fresh during a slow period. I appreciated all of his suggestions.  Comments from thoughtful people like him help us to serve our customers better. Before we parted ways, I asked him if he has reserved a seat for the UMass Official State Dinner. 

Every year our managers recognize seniors by passing out gift packs with UMass t-shirts, mugs and future food vouchers and taking group photos. This year, former White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier—a regular guest chef of UMass Dining— suggested doing an event for the seniors that was similar to the charity events he puts on often throughout the year.

After discussing it with our management team, we decided to host a regal affair, a "Presidential" State Dinner at the Campus Center Auditorium on April 18 at 6:00 pm. I’m calling it the UMass Official State Dinner.

With the pomp and circumstance of an actual state dinner (Mesnier is producing the meal, so authenticity is guaranteed), our graduates will feel like they are guests of the White House. Guests will not only savor delicious cuisine with the dining etiquette of an official State Dinner but also be instilled with a sense of pride and responsibility as they leave our hallowed halls to become the leaders of tomorrow. They’ll also have a special surprise dinner guest in their midst, who will add to the theme.

In addition to the surprise guest, there will be a White House four-course dinner, an honor guard, a red carpet, and a display of unique White House mementos. This is going to be the first event of its kind on any campus in the nation. Consequently, it will be a night to remember for our graduating seniors and guests.

We are busy planning to ensure this event is a huge success. Right now our chefs are tasting food, our managers are working on set-up efforts, and office staff are finalizing reservations. It is going to be a memorable experience for all of us and I can’t wait to be part of it.

Thank you for keeping UMass Dining at the top.

Contact Ken at [email protected]

 You can follow Ken Toong on Twitter at:

Blog Category: 
Author Name: 
Ken Toong
Author Title: 
Executive Director Auxiliary Enterprises

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE/UMASS DINING OPERATIONS FAQ: UMass Dining is committed to the health & safety of our students, faculty and staff. We are following guidelines set by our local, state and national health officials; we routinely monitor our dining facilities; we have implemented additional sanitation measures to ensure customer safety; and we are in constant contact with the campus community.