Curious Gastronaut™ was created by a curious human named Nalisha Chouraria—play & child culture designer, illustrator and founder of Studio Oddball on the Gold Coast, Australia. Learn more about her here
Nalisha designs tools for play and the imagination for children, with children. Her creations aim to stimulate the imagination and inspire curiosity, creativity, exploration and playfulness in children. She spends a lot of time thinking about what play is, and why it’s so great (and waaay too much time naming inanimate objects and keeping them as pets). She finds inspiration in learning from interdisciplinary fields and stepping outside of her comfort zone. Nalisha brings the child’s perspective into her work through research, play testing, observation, interviews and workshops. Studio Oddball is her playground!
FUN FACTS: Nalisha has had an utterly unique life. She’s lived in India, United States, Sweden, Italy, Netherlands and now Australia! She’s been a Bollywood child actor, studied space exploration, and married a tree (but let’s not go there).
Everyone’s eyes light up when they talk about astronauts and space exploration! There had to be a way to evoke the same excitement, curiosity and wonder in children (and the child at heart), around gastronauts and food exploration. After all, food is much more than just fuel—there’s a marvellous edible world right here on Earth, waiting to be uncovered.
Some of us enjoy all things food whereas others say ‘yuck’ before even trying it (that spaghetti-eating-only nephew or nothing-but-white-food goddaughter probably comes to mind). My nephew refused to eat fruits or anything fruit-flavoured when he was a toddler. As a result, mealtimes were stressful, many foods remained unexplored and his diet limited. We all have our quirks and that’s what makes us unique but when it started to negatively affect the little humans in my life, it was time to get seriously playful. Luckily, eating is a skill that is learned not something we’re born with. But just like any other skill, it needs practise. That’s right, repeated exposure over time creates adventurous and healthy eaters. When kids are young, they are curious and receptive to new ideas. They should be encouraged to experience as many flavours, textures and aromas as possible. Having studied PLAY for years, I decided to combine my passion for food and expertise in play & children’s design to bring the endless benefits of play to the table (literally). Enter Curious Gastronaut.
Curious Gastronaut started out as a thesis project in Sweden in 2015. During play tests, numerous families benefited from its methodologies. It even went on to win the prestigious international A’Design Award in Italy in 2020. After years of extensive research, countless hours of play testing and 2 awards later, I decided to turn my passion project into a product.
Using whimsy, bite size edible experiments and all 5 senses, I wanted to inspire kids to step out of their comfort zone and explore the world of food like an astronaut explores space, to possibly be rewarded with a surprising discovery. No tricking, no lying, no forcing, no sneaky business—just pure PLAY. And it’s the ONLY food game that makes no mention of food! Curious Gastronaut enables kids to take charge and rule the (edible) world!
Curious Gastronaut™ is designed to:
• Make trying new food and food combinations FUN
• Stimulate the imagination and inspire kids to be original inventors rather than recipe followers
• Motivate kids to learn about food with excitement, curiosity and bravery
• Allow kids to learn at their own pace, on their own terms
• Bring diversity to the diet
• Let kids learn HOW to eat rather than WHAT to eat
• Encourage kids to explore using all their senses
• Reinvent families time
• Empower kids
• Inclusive and fun for all
• Develop and build a food vocabulary beyond “yuck” and “yum”
• Encourage kids to become adventurous eaters
Curious Gastronaut is for selective eaters, budding chefs, the mad scientist and everyone in between! Learn more and buy here.
I’ve been a proud and active volunteer at OzHarvest since 2018. As an education ambassador, one of my key responsibilities is to educate and inspire children to become passionate food warriors. Today, I am delighted to announce OzHarvest as our charity partner!
Operating since 2004, OzHarvest is Australia’s most trusted and leading food rescue organisation on a mission to nourish our country. It rescues surplus food from commercial outlets and delivers it to charities who support people in need, whilst diverting food waste from landfills.
This partnership represents a very important step. With the help of your donation, together, we’re able to make a social impact in a way that not only resonates with Curious Gastronaut™ but is close to my heart and adds a greater sense of meaning and purpose to what I do.
It’s a sad fact but according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, on an average there are two hungry kids in every classroom, across the nation. As a business that engages with children on a daily basis, and promotes food education and food play, it is crucial to lead by example and discuss with our little humans the consequences of food waste, the importance of being grateful, kind and paying it forward when you can.
With that said, I promise that $1 from every Curious Gastronaut™ product you purchase, will go towards feeding two vulnerable children at school. That’s right, 1 game = 2 meals.
So please keep playing to keep OzHarvest’s wheels turning. Buy here. Thank you, you kind, kind human!
– Nalisha Chouraria, Founder & Creator of Curious Gastronaut