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Cornell Dining wins 2023 Gold Medal for Best Residential Dining Facility in the prestigious Loyal E. Horton Awards

Named for a founder and past president of the National Association of College & University Food Services (NACUFS), the annual Loyal E. Horton Awards are among the most prestigious honors in collegiate dining. We're delighted to report that Cornell Dining has won the 2023 Gold Medal for best Residential Dining Facility for our new flagship dining room, Morrison Dining!

A table of diners inside a campus dining room
Morrison Dining hosted our festive 2023 Commencement Dinner. Photo by Fausel Imagery.

Morrison Dining, which opened in January of 2022, is a stunning centerpiece to a massive University initiative to enhance the residential experience at Cornell University for first and second year students. The project is the first of its kind for the campus community and includes a 58,230 square foot “food hall” concept designed, executed and experienced to echo a vibrant and busy city street with globally-inspired menu concepts.

Guests enjoy watching the cooking process from start to finish, often from just 5 feet away. The dining room is divided into four quadrants, each with its own personality and enough options to create a full meal.

The facility itself is multi-faceted and the backbone to the Cornell Dining operation. Behind the scenes, there is a two-story kitchen that also houses operations for Cornell Catering and our commissary, which supports retail units across campus. With multiple cohorts under one roof, we are able to find efficiencies with staff and inventory of bulk items.

The building was designed to support a variety of sustainability initiatives. Grinders throughout the facility take food scraps into pulping machines, breaking down food waste and aiding the composting process. The centralized oil recovery and refill system results in reduced waste, and the water-cooled, centralized and redundant refrigeration system reduces energy consumption by sharing rack compressor capacity on demand.

"Planning for Morrison Dining began in 2016, and we ultimately opened in January 2022," says Cornell Dining director Paul Muscente. "In between, this was our biggest project in many years, since Morrison Dining isn't just the eatery our guests see. Everyone was involved as we designed not just a dining room with its own food prep needs, but a catering kitchen and commissary kitchen, a teaching kitchen planned alongside the Division of Nutritional Science, and state-of-the-art waste handling so we can efficiently compost food scraps, all in one of the most beautiful and most energy-efficient spaces we've ever built."

A hand sprinkles herbs over a plate of pasta being held by a diner
Pasta is made in-house and dishes can be customized for each guest. Photo by Fausel Imagery.

It's at the same time an academic collaboration with the Division of Nutritional Sciences in the Discovery Kitchen, a multicultural culinary center with dedicated halal and kosher platforms, and a singular example of plant-forward menuing.

"Being recognized by our NACUFS peers with the illustrious Loyal E. Horton Award is incredibly gratifying," Muscente says. "I couldn't be happier to share this accolade with the whole Dining team, our partners on campus, and the architects and designers and builders who helped bring this vision to life." 

The hard work, creativity and collaboration that went into this entry are reflective of the many dedicated, innovated and talented professionals who made the concept and operation of Morrison Dining a success. Congratulations to everyone involved!

About Cornell Dining

Cornell Dining is consistently ranked in the Princeton Review's top ten for best campus food among all colleges and universities in the country! That high rating comes from customer surveys, and reflects Cornell Dining's commitment to serving high-quality foods that are healthy and creatively prepared with genuine care for a diverse community. Cornell Dining operates about 30 on-campus eateries -- which include residential dining rooms, cafés, coffeehouses, food courts, and convenience stores -- and serves more than 23,000 meals a day to members of the Cornell community. For more information, visit