1440 Multiversity reaches out to the community with Lunch & Learn classes … dinner, too

Executive chef Jose Fernandez applying dressing to his honey crisp apple salad.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Laura Sutherland takes in an art journaling class and exquisite meal at 1440 Multiversity. The brainchild of former Juniper Network CEO Scott Kriens and his wife, Joanie, Multiversity opened in 2017 in Scotts Valley with a selection of multiday workshops and classes in wellness and human development that further its mission of “creating hope for living well.”

Writer Laura Sutherland is excited to dig deeper into the Santa Cruz food, beer and wine scene while Lily Belli takes a break to welcome a new family member.

Every image I glued onto my first page was round — blue circles, red zeros, orange pie charts, a single lemon slice. Uh oh, what does that mean? I wondered. That I’m stuck in a repetitive cycle? That I have an issue with closure?

I was exploring my intuitive creativity in an art journaling class that was part of 1440 Multiversity’s Lunch & Learn program — a series of community classes that finish with a meal.

1440 Multiversity opened in 2017 with a selection of multiday workshops and short classes in wellness and human development. The brainchild of former Juniper Network CEO Scott Kriens and his wife, Joanie, it reimagined the former Bethany Bible College’s 75 acres in Scotts Valley. The founders spared no expense to make the campus striking in its earthy grandeur and in the way it blends its indoor and outdoor gathering spaces, classrooms and accommodations into the surrounding oak woodlands and redwood forests. The 1440 in its name comes from the fact that there are 1,440 minutes in a day.

COVID shut down all workshops, and in 2021, the facility reopened with a new objective to offer supportive programs free of charge to educators, first responders, health care professionals and nonprofit leaders. Companies also book retreats that take advantage of the peaceful setting and holistic approach to learning and well-being. The retreats, fundraising efforts and community classes all help fund the programs that strive to reinvigorate these workers and help them find a new sense of purpose.

With warm weather on the horizon, Multiversity is in the planning stages for a late spring or summer farm-to-table dinner and demonstration in its teaching kitchen and also plans to offer classes such as printmaking and introduction to meditation that take advantage of the organization’s beautiful setting, said marketing director Katie Denbo.

Art journaling is just one of 1440 Multiversity's offerings.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Back in the art journaling class, instructor Tara Ford conducted a brief seated and standing meditation (a regular opening to most classes), then instructed us to silence our inner critic and tap into our intuition as we used the supplies in front of us — a sketchbook, colored pencils, markers, scissors and glue sticks, along with a selection of magazines and colored paper we could grab at the front of the class.

The person to my left spent much of her time cutting Matisse-like leafy shapes out of paper, clearly inspired by Multiversity’s magnificent forest setting. The person to my right was crumpling paper and creating a page of three-dimensional flowers and magazine pictures of fruit.

Laura Sutherland during an art journaling class at 1440 Multiversity.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Trying to be mindful and let my feelings determine my design, I shifted from circles to other shapes and reached a level of acceptance that told me not to read into my outcomes too much and just enjoy the process.

But toward the end of the experience, I found myself cutting out a full-page photo of a Nathan’s hot dog with a pyramid chart of fixings above it — the mustard, the ketchup, the onions and pickles, the sauerkraut ... and it was clear that I was getting really hungry. Luckily, a few minutes later we headed to lunch, and that was where the real artistry took shape.

Executive chef Jose Fernandez had created a south-of-the-border-inspired menu that started with a salad featuring pea shoots, red cabbage and honeycrisp apples. Local lemons are glorious right now, and his showstopper lemon vinaigrette highlighted and integrated the tangy, crunchy and sweet of the salad. Next came a smooth and creamy red pepper bisque — a silky contrast to the staccato salad.

Lunch is served at 1440 Multiversity.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Our main course — poblano peppers stuffed with quinoa, toma cheese and a zucchini and kidney bean ragout — looked like treasure-filled boats perched on a caramely mole sauce and were deeply flavorful. As we enjoyed our dessert of Mexican hot chocolate cookies with a tiny hit of heat, we noticed the lineup of local partners at the bottom of the menu, including Dirty Girl Farms and Big Sur Salts.

Healthy food is a hallmark of 1440 Multiversity’s mission of “creating hope for living well,” and the Barcelona-trained Fernandez clearly loves creating artful dishes inspired by local farms and fields. He honed his skills in some of the most prestigious hotel chains in the world — the Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, Peninsula. Today, he works his culinary magic at 1440 Multiversity’s Kitchen Table Restaurant, cooking for guests at corporate retreats and gatherings and for locals who come for the classes.

A February Lunch & Learn at Scotts Valley's 1440 Multiversity.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Multiversity is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, so it makes education a part of every experience. That’s where the community classes “to enrich your body and spirit” come into play — you need to enroll in a class to enjoy a dining experience.

Take forest bathing, a Japanese practice to relieve stress by immersing yourself in the natural world, or yoga, qigong, tai chi or wilderness survival. All of these classes are followed by a lunch or dinner and elevate the experience from educational to exceptional. You might have a meal of grilled adobo jumbo prawns with beet polenta, artichokes and grilled scallions with a side of garlicky royal trumpet mushrooms with herbed breadcrumbs. Or, if you visit for the Tapas & Tunes evening, you’ll sample seven different small plates, like grilled ribeye with house-made hickory BBQ sauce, pickled cucumbers and green chili cornbread, while you listen to live music.

Foodies can sign up for the Teaching Kitchen workshops that take place in a well-outfitted culinary classroom fronted by raised garden beds filled with vegetables and herbs. After you cook and learn, you’ll eat what you create. Or book a private culinary experience for your family and friends that includes a cooking demonstration or hands-on experience, followed by an elevated meal (and wine pairing if you wish) that you helped design. As long as your dinner includes learning of some sort, anything is possible.

Free online resources are available, too, like classes that reflect Multiversity’s emphasis on health and well-being and recipes from the Teaching Kitchen. Podcasts and webinars cover a wide variety of topics, such as “Healing Moral Distress,” “Anti-Racism and Building an Inclusive Culture” and “The Science of Happiness.”

Once home from the class, I looked through my art journal and realized that I needed one more entry — something that would capture the colors, shapes, textures and tastes of my lunch and my glowing reaction to it. Turning a multisensory, three-dimensional food extravaganza into two dimensions on a small white page would be a challenge, but I got to work, giving myself one minute to create it. After all, the 1440 in the name stands for how many minutes exist in a day … and the importance of making the most of each one.

Community classes range in price from $60 (with lunch included) to $75 (with dinner included); special programs like the farm-to-table dinner and demo or private dinners and demos are priced higher. To learn more about classes, visit www.1440.org/events.