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.
It all started in 2015, when Nalisha was living in Sweden. One stormy night (ok we made up the stormy bit), she woke with a start. She’d had an idea, inspired by the fussy little people in her life. Nalisha thought to herself, ‘what if, instead of trying to force kids to eat food they don’t like, we could make learning about food a game to inspire curiosity and joy? What if we could explore food like an astronaut explores space…’We should all be Gastronauts!’.
And so Curious Gastronaut™ was born. Initially it was a thesis project, but after years of extensive research, countless hours of play testing and two awards later, it finally launched as the game we see here today.
Just like her Gastronaut, Nalisha herself is curious and excited by everything—most of all food. Delightfully playful and full of energy, she 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. And Studio Oddball is her playground!
Nalisha is always thinking about what play is and why it’s so great. She is obsessed with learning, and you can often find her stepping outside her comfort zone or immersing herself in something completely new. Or just spending waaay too much time naming inanimate objects and keeping them as pets.
Peruse her LinkedIn here. Be sure to say hello!
Curious Gastronaut™ is the most fun and whimsical way to learn about the edible world. Using the power of play, it helps kids to step out of their comfort zone and explore the exciting world of food like an astronaut explores outer-space.
Here are some unique features of Curious Gastronaut™. When you play for yourself you’ll see that…
• It makes trying new food outrageously fun
• It inspires kids to be imaginative inventors rather than recipe followers
• It makes NO mention of food
• It allows kids to learn at their own pace, on their own terms
But 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 in children (and the child at heart), around food.
After all, food is much more than just fuel—there’s a marvellous edible world right here on Earth, waiting to be uncovered. Thus, the idea for Curious Gastronaut™ was born!!
So I started off on a journey, trying to create the most fun and whimsical way for kids to learn about the edible world. I learnt so much along the way – I think it is pretty fascinating, and maybe you will, too!
Did you know that eating is a skill that is learned, not something we’re born with? Yep – we learn HOW to eat, and just like any other skill, it takes practise.
When we are young, we are curious and receptive to new ideas – it’s human nature. This is why kids should be encouraged to experience as many flavours, textures, aromas and combinations as possible. Kids best explore and learn about the world by playing and using their imagination. So why not the food world?
Growing up, I was a “I wish I could pop a magic food pill” kinda gal. When I turned 20, I was exposed to a whole new world of flavours and cuisines and that’s when my love affair with food started—I’m not talking sparks, I mean full on fireworks. I wish it had happened earlier. You might be thinking, ‘but my little human hates everything except [insert food here]!!!’. We all know that some kids (and grownups alike) enjoy all things food whereas others say ‘yuck’ even before trying it. And it often makes mealtimes far from enjoyable for everyone involved.
Never fear! Curious Gastronaut™ is designed to appeal to even the most selective of eaters. It is the ONLY food game that makes NO mention of food!
A food game that doesn’t talk about food?! How does that work? Well, we encourage kids 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, but unless they want to, they don’t actually have to taste it. But we’ve found that most kids get so caught up in the fun that they actually want to have a little taste of their creations! It is not a game that teaches kids about “healthy foods” or “what to eat”. Rather, it playfully shows kids that food can be fun, cultivates a lifelong explorer mindset and inspires them to be adventurous around food!
Here are some more fantastic reasons to embrace your inner Gastronaut:
• It helps kids learn HOW to eat rather than WHAT to eat
• It reinvents family time
• It creates a playful, non-stressful and pressure-free environment
• It fosters positive and healthy food relations in the long run
• It is inclusive and fun for everyone
• It helps kids develop a food vocabulary beyond “yuck” and “yum”, and more.
Curious Gastronaut™ is for selective eaters, budding chefs, the mad scientist and everyone in between! 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 start a conversation with our little humans about 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