Trash to Table

Sustainability through Scavenging

Prices at the grocery store have gone up in recent years; maybe you’ve noticed.

When egg prices rose more than 70 percent in a year, some families felt the pinch and recognized the need to get creative in the kitchen. But we don’t know what we don’t know. Where does that information or knowledge come from? Perhaps it is passed down from generation to generation? Or there is always YouTube. If one has not been on this active journey, sourcing information on food frugality could prove challenging.

Necessity Breeds Innovation

Cortney Smith and Dave Cook, co-owners of Gather Food Studio, started a class series dedicated to passing along these tips and tricks as well as making them fun and (of course) tasty. Their Trash to Table class series has covered how best to use food scraps, leftovers, and bottom-of-the-jar dregs to create some fantastic meals and teach students to enhance their sustainability both environmentally and economically.

Although the word “scavenge” might seem strong, the dictionary definition reads “to search for and collect (anything usable) from discarded waste.”  It is simply defining what is usable and then determining how to use it.

Don’t throw the bathwater out with the baby.

You heard me. Read it again.

Smith and Cook teach how to use leftover whey from cheesemaking to add protein and a savory depth to meals. They have sourced cost-effective egg substitutes, used leftover brines from jarred items to make dressings or marinades. Taught students to recognize edible weeds to then add them to pestos or sauces, as well as ways to use food scraps in soups and jams.

Students are learning how to read expiry dates and meal-plan with “last chance” items as well as how to repurpose leftovers from yesterday’s take-out. Lastly, properly preserving food items before they are able to be used or ultimately composting the last little bits to grow new food. It is all covered – tip to tail (or at least root to leaf.) 

Small Classes

Gather Food Studio courses are taught at a maximum 8:1 student-to-instructor ratio and in a team format where the group is split into teams of two for each recipe. The recipes are planned and ingredients are sourced prior to the class. From beginner to expert, these classes are easy to follow along and give students direct access to a professional chef. The more classes you take, the larger your cooking community becomes. Students leave not only with a full, satisfied belly, but with recipes to take home.

Smith explains the initial goal was to reduce waste and be more intentional about using all of what we have access to. But a natural byproduct of cutting the overall food cost allows Gather Food Studio to give back to the community. All of the proceeds from the Trash to Table courses are donated to Food to Power, a non-profit in the Colorado Springs community that strives to provide food access, food education and food production. Since 2013, the non-profit organization has provided more than $6 million in healthy groceries to the community, combating food insecurity and spreading food education in their wake.  

Tickets are limited and are first come, first served. To see what is available, visit

Pro-tip: Classes are posted at the beginning of the month, with a two-month lead-time. They make a great gift, date, family or friend experience. But don’t be afraid to show up solo either; all are welcome in the kitchen and around the table.

Facebook + Instagram: @GatherFoodStudio

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