Beverlie Terra takes a new position at Cabrillo College
When Beverlie Terra started her position recently as instructor with the Cabrillo College Culinary Arts program, she did so with a wealth of cooking experience under her belt. After 26 years at Chaminade Resort & Spa in Santa Cruz, Terra is now putting her expertise into a whole new journey as a chef.
“It was time for something new,” Terra says. “I always knew that I had more career ahead of me, and I felt I needed to explore that.”
Now, in her new role instructing students enrolled in the Cabrillo College Culinary Arts program, she has the opportunity to pass on her knowledge of the preparation of fine cuisine. This concept isn’t entirely new to her—she taught a few classes during previous college semesters.
During her tenure as executive chef at Chaminade, Terra developed a very popular series of farm-to-table dinners, which were served outdoors during the summer months and brought together local farmers and wineries to showcase their goods. One of her goals for the Culinary Arts program, which is run by director Eric Carter, is to feature similar events in the school’s Pino Alto dining room at the Sesnon House. It is in this beautiful historic environment where students learn their cooking skills and the art of preparing special-event dinners.
“I want to work with local farmers and develop the farm-to-table concept and eating locally,” Terra says. “I also want to work more with the community.” The latter, she points out, was something she never had the opportunity or the time to do in her previous career as a busy chef.
Terra, who hails from San Mateo, also plans to do farm dinners as fundraisers for disabled children, particularly to help the organization Growing Social, which supports students with social learning difficulties. She also volunteers at Life Lab at UC Santa Cruz, a leader in farm-and-garden-based education where students learn cooking skills under the guidance of different chefs. But right now, Terra says her biggest excitement is working with the Culinary Arts students and watching them progress.
Terra’s career has taken a few twists and turns over the years. She once owned a coffee shop at the top of the now-demolished Cooper House called Cooper House Coffee & Pastry. When that business didn’t pan out, she worked as a court reporter for a while in Los Gatos, but says it wasn’t for her. Her culinary future was sealed on a wine-tasting trip to Sonoma when a hotel owner she was chatting with asked if she could cook and offered her a job as a chef. Terra, who says she always had an aptitude for cooking, jumped at the chance, packed her bags and moved north the next day. And that is where she honed her skills, she says.
Eventually moving back to the Santa Cruz area, Terra signed on with Chaminade and had a long and happy reign in the resort’s kitchen. She met her husband, Joe Terra, there when he came in with his company Terra X Pest Services, and has now been happily married for 16 years and helped raise three stepchildren. After working most weekends and holidays and many late evenings in the hotel industry, she appreciates having more free time now to spend with her husband and family.
Terra apologizes and momentarily breaks off our conversation to answer a student’s question on the preparation of potatoes au gratin for a special event that evening at the Sesnon House, clearly relishing her new role.
“It’s almost like being a mentor,” she laughs.
Beverlie Terra’s next two planned events for the fall are four-course farm-to-table dinners featuring local produce and wine. The first is at 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 1 with Yellow Wall Farm of Santa Cruz and Guglielmo Winery; the next takes place at 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 8 with Fiesta Farm of Watsonville and Burrell School Vineyards & Winery. Both dinners will be served in the Pino Alto dining room at the Sesnon House in Aptos. Tickets are $65 plus tax and gratuity. Visit pinoaltorestaurant.org for more information.