Curious Gastronaut™ was created by a rather curious human named Nalisha Chouraria – play & child culture designer, illustrator and founder of Studio Oddball on the Gold Coast, Australia.
Delightfully playful and full of energy, Nalisha designs tools for play and the imagination for children, with children. Nalisha brings the child’s perspective into her work through research, play testing, observation, interviews and workshops. Studio Oddball is her playground.
Nalisha spends most of her time playing, watching children play or thinking about play and why it is so great. She is obsessed with learning and names inanimate objects and keeps them as pets.
Peruse her LinkedIn here.
You’re curious to know more, like WHY and HOW this wondrous game came to exist? Well, let me tell you!
Have you ever noticed how everyone’s eyes light up when they talk about astronauts and space exploration? I thought that there had to be a way to evoke the same excitement, curiosity and wonder around food.
It all started in 2015, when I was living in Sweden. One stormy night (OK I made up the stormy bit), I woke with a start. I had an idea, inspired by the little people in my life. What if, instead of trying to force children to eat food they fear, we use play to inspire curiosity and joy around food? After all, food is much more than fuel. We should explore the food world like an astronaut explores space…’We should all be Gastronauts!’. After years of extensive research, countless hours of play testing and two awards later, it launched as the game we see here today.
A child’s food preferences directly affect their eating behaviour, which in turn is linked to the formation of obesity, overall health and wellness. All children suffer from neophobia–a fear of new foods, to some degree, and as a result, mealtimes can be stressful, foods remain unexplored, and children become malnourished.
Food preferences start forming in childhood, and while some are innate, most are learned. For children to learn to prefer and select healthy foods, it is critical to provide them with early, positive, repeated experiences with those foods. We are most receptive to developing new tastes in early childhood and therefore, children should be provided with more opportunities to experience as many flavours, textures, aromas and combinations as possible.
There was a need for non-stressful, pressure-free and engaging ways to provide multiple food exposures that children need, to develop new tastes and eventually become healthy, confident and adventurous eaters. Children best explore and learn about the world by playing and using their imagination. So why not the food world? Enter Curious Gastronaut™.
By bringing the endless benefits of play to the table, Curious Gastronaut™ makes trying new food and learning about the edible world fun. It encourages children to use their imagination to think about food beyond just something they have to eat—they can see it, smell it, touch it, hear it and taste it.
OzHarvest is Australia’s most trusted and leading food rescue organisation.
I’ve been a proud and active volunteer at OzHarvest since 2018. One of my key responsibilities is to educate and inspire children to become passionate food warriors. Today, I’m delighted to announce OzHarvest as our charity partner.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, on an average there are two hungry children in every classroom, across the nation. As a business that promotes food play and learning, this partnership is important to us. It is also a gateway to start a conversation with our little humans about the food waste, gratefulness and kindness.
With that said, we donate a part of every sale to OzHarvest towards feeding two vulnerable children in school. That’s 1 game = 2 meals. Buy here.
Thank you, you kind, kind human.