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Odin Inn students cook up travel plans
As North Kitsap High School students at the Odin Inn don their chef coats preparing for another day of cooking, their culinary instructor sits more than 5,000 miles away in Shanghai, China.
On Oct. 7 Aaron Covey, North Kitsap’s culinary arts teacher, flew out to Shanghai where he will provide input to EF Educational Tours, a travel business that provides teachers and students with international travel options.
Covey was one of 50 teachers from the United States selected to provide input on classroom travel. Specifically, he will provide insight into how to cater to culinary arts students, he said.
The Odin Inn is attached to the North Kitsap Community Center, next to the pool entrance. The Inn opened Sept. 30 and operates Tuesday through Friday 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The classroom instruction at the Inn is part of the high school’s career and technical education. Covey began teaching at North Kitsap High seven years ago, after moving from Boston, Mass.
“I was trying to find an excuse to move to this area and this job was perfect,” Covey said.
Covey began working in kitchens at the age of 15 and, like many cooks, started as a dishwasher, he said.
Last year, Covey and 13 students traveled to Italy using the EF Educational Tours. When they arrived, he was disappointed by the tour agenda, Covey said.
“I went down the list the tour service gave us and there was nothing there for culinary students,” Covey said. “How are my students going to expand in the culinary field by looking at statues and walking through museums?”
A sign-up sheet for a trip to China has just gone out to the 150 students working at the Odin Inn this semester. Not all students plan on going on the trip, which costs more than $3,000 per student, but the opportunity for some is too much to miss.
Instead of traditional sight seeing, Covey would like the students’ experience to be more like something on the Food Network, he said.
“Personally, I like to see how different cultures not only prepare food, but run their businesses,” said senior Cameron Walsworth, while he called for more ingredients from the front of the kitchen.
Walsworth first began cooking on a military base in Japan, where he started high school. He is now a student head chef at the Odin Inn. Walsworth prefers the hands-on experience in Covey’s class, compared to his school in Japan, which focused on book work, he said.
The opportunity to observe businesses in other countries would help him as he prepares for college, Walsworth said. He plans on majoring in business management, which is directly related to running a restaurant.
Students will have to find a way to pay for the trip to China, but Covey’s trip to Shangai was paid for by the EF Tours, he said. His trip lasts four days, Oct. 7 to Oct. 10, and the tour company paid for a substitute for the two school days he is gone, he said.
Instead of museum tours, Covey wants to give the students he brings to China an opportunity to learn just like in his class: hands-on.
Covey plans on bringing them to open-air markets, letting them experience the food of another culture, he said.
The trip won’t be for more than a month, so for now the students at the Inn will have to stick with the food they know.
“I haven’t really got past making milkshakes and burgers, but I’m liking it,” said NK senior Jacob Hamilton, scooping ice cream into individual servings.
Hamilton does not plan on sticking with the food industry after graduation and would like to become an architect, but the work ethic he has learned has helped him, he said.
“Cooking is a burnout profession and I am trying to make it as enjoyable to learn as possible,” Covey said. “If anything, it helps mix their day up.”