The Monthly Special: Battle of the Dining Halls 2024

March 28, 2024
An aerial view of the Battle of the Dining Halls event

I Can't Believe It's Plant-Powered

On March 21, five dining halls - Faculty House, John Jay, JJ's Place, Chef Mike's Sub Shop, and Ferris Booth Commons - competed in an epic food showdown with a new twist - all the dishes were entirely plant-based!

This year's plant-based theme recognized Columbia Dining's participation in the New York City Plant-Powered Carbon Challenge, a new initiative from the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy designed to activate the private sector in cutting NYC’s carbon footprint through climate-friendly, plant-powered food. "We're thrilled that our best and biggest event of the year, Battle of the Dining Halls, could celebrate our new collaboration with the Mayor's Office and demonstrate how plant-powered food can be fun, delicious, and creative," said Columbia Dining Assistant Vice President Vicki Dunn.

Each dining hall prepared a dish, dessert and beverage for the event. Event guests were invited to sample all the food and vote on their favorite dish, while a panel of student judges and celebrity Chef Robert Irvine formally scored each dining hall. The competition was fierce, and each dining hall fought to win Judges' Choice and People's Choice!

"If all plant based foods tasted this good, I would go vegan in a heartbeat."

Student Guest


Faculty House served a harvest trio: smoked sweet potato with pulled mushrooms, green pea and leek soup, and a hummus salad. Their dish was paired with passion fruit iced tea and caramelized pineapple. 

"What Dining is doing is setting a new stage. You are ahead of the game."

Chef Robert Irvine


Inspired by Japanese flavors, John Jay served a nigiri trio paired with a yuzu fizz and mochi donuts. The nigiri trio was made from tomato "tuna," eggplant unagi, and oyster mushroom.


Introducing the newest flavor combination: Thai-talian! JJ's dish, udon noodles in a Thai coconut curry sauce with chickpea and mushroom "meat" balls, was a delicious fusion of Thai and Italian flavors. JJ's paired the dish with a peach, orange, and lemongrass iced tea and wonton cannoli.

"The food from every team was absolutely delicious."

Student Guest

#BigSubsBigDill (AKA Chef Mike's Sub Shop)

Chef Mike's Sub Shop prepared a Korean BBQ sub made from pulled portobello mushrooms and paired with a root beer float and apple strudel.


The Ferris team served a mushroom and chickpea madras taco on homemade corn tortillas with coconut rice. Their dish was paired with a mango mint soursop refresher and five spice tres leches rice pudding.

An Expert Panel: Student Judges and Chef Robert Irvine

The Judges' Choice award was determined by a panel of six student judges and celebrity Chef Robert Irvine. 

"I had so much fun"

^^^Feedback from one of our student attendees! The food, the ambiance, the excitement from the staff.... this was an event to remember (and to tell your friends about).

"Thank you for the delicious experience!"

Student Guest

Get that Dining Swag

We know what you really want... a t-shirt to rep your fav dining hall!

And The Winner Is....

Yeah, we really made you scroll this far to find out who won. That's because it's not about who won! All of our passionate, creative, talented staff won. Every student who sampled the incredible food won. We all won!

But we know, we know, you must be curious. This 2024 winners are....

  • Judges' Choice: Ferris Booth Commons
  • People's Choice: Faculty House

Photography credit to Eileen Barroso and Sirin Samman