Cooking from the Heart: A Cooking Retreat

March 8-10, 2019

The Program

Spend a fun weekend in the kitchen with Chef Tod, you will deepen your theoretical and practical understanding of food preparation and hone your culinary skills under the guidance of one of the Quaker Center's most requested chefs. You will have the opportunity to create several delicious dishes, with both vegetarian and meat options on the menu. As you cook under Tod's guidance, you will:

  • Gain confidence in your ability to create something delicious with whatever is on hand

  • Learn the basic fundamental concepts of cooking

  • Increase your understanding of how techniques and ingredients combine to make simple things perfect

  • Practice shortcuts and techniques for speed and efficiency

Tod Nysether

Chef Tod is known for creating divine meals for all dietary preferences that nurture the body while delighting the senses. His signature line, Cooking from the Heart, captures his intention to support people in moving away from recipes to instead craft dishes based on an understanding of how ingredients and flavors combine to create a sensory explosion.

Tod is the chef and owner of Simple Pleasures Foodcraft in Santa Cruz. Tod is adept in preparing attractive, delicious and healthful meals that meet a wide variety of dietary needs. He has more than twenty years of experience cooking in a variety of different professional settings that range from summer camps and commercial kitchens to fine dining restaurants and full-service catering companies. He thinks that food is at its best when it is prepared with a combination of the freshest ingredients, simple techniques and love. Tod is passionate about his work and is continually inspired to provide people with an experience that reminds them of how deeply satisfying good food can be.


This retreat will take place at the Ben Lomond Quaker Center. Our lodging and meeting halls are surrounded by majestic redwood trees, wonderful trails to explore on 80 acres of redwood forest, an outdoor labyrinth, and beauty everywhere you look. Our sleeping rooms will be in the Orchard Lodge - semi-private rooms near the dining room. The accommodations are simple and can be described as “rustic,” meaning that you can expect to walk outside your room (and outdoors) to go to the shared bathrooms, and your room will have no amenities (you bring everything, including towels, sheets, sleeping bag/blanket. Most people can expect to share a room with 1-2 others.

How to Register

What is the cost for this program?
The cost for the program is a suggested sliding scale of between $200 and $300 per person, based on your discernment of your financial status. This fee includes tuition, accommodations, and six meals.

How can I register for this program?
Registration involves two steps:

  1. First, complete the online registration form below. Completion of this form will hold your registration for one week pending receipt of your deposit of $50.

  2. Second, send your deposit or program fee by mailing a check payable to Tod Nysether, 312 National St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060.

Name *

Additional Information

What shall I bring to this program?
Please bring your own kitchen knives, aprons, cutting board, comfortable shoes, and comfortable work clothes appropriate for cooking in the kitchen.

You will also need to bring a towel, toiletries, and bedding (a pillow case and either a sleeping bag or sheets and blankets). A flashlight is essential. If you bring your own cloth napkin we can reduce our use of disposable paper products.

Please note that some friends who attend our programs are made very ill by close proximity to highly scented commercial products, so we ask participants to refrain from bringing or using perfumes or strongly scented soaps, deodorants, and personal care products.



If you have questions about the program, please contact

Tod Nysether: