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It’s not too unusual for a kid to hate vegetables. So the fact that 7-year-old Nicolas Come didn’t want the creatures on his pizza could have been expected.
But Nicolas’ father, Stephane Come (sounds like comb), just couldn’t have a kid who wouldn’t eat vegetables. As a Frenchman and a chef, that would be too much. So he started his campaign to convert Nicolas, the self-proclaimed “pickiest eater on the planet,” to veggie-vangelism.
The garden at Nicolas’ school not compelling enough, Stephane lured the boy into the family plot. Little by little, Nicolas became fascinated with watching vegetables sprout and morph into the tasty dishes his father prepared in the kitchen.
“I didn’t trust vegetables because I didn’t know where they came from,” Nicolas admits.
By watching the veggies he’d grown himself prepared properly in his own kitchen, Nicolas started venturing into the culinary world. He’ll even occasionally eat veggies that come from the store—something he never would have done before growing his own.
Now, at almost 10 years old, Nicolas can cook dinner for whole family. His favorite vegetable dish is green beans—a quick and healthy accompaniment to any entrée that his father taught him how to cook correctly, without allowing the beans to get mushy.
The Nicolas’ Garden app
Hoping to introduce the wonderful world of veggies to his classmates, Nicolas thought he’d like to write a book. But with his father’s encouragement, Nicolas pitched the idea of a mobile app to more than 100 computer programmers during a weekend coding competition. It wasn’t easy to speak up and explain his idea to the hackathon crowd (while standing on a chair, no less), he says. But he was driven to find a way to share his passion.
“I wanted to help other kids understand what their food is actually made of and that it’s good for them, so they can be a little healthier,” says Nicolas.
The resulting app and website, Nicolas‘ Garden, got the attention of celebrity chef Jaime Oliver, who made pancakes with the young entrepreneur.
Nicolas was also invited to the White House in July 2013 for the Kids State Dinner, where he met President Obama. He’s also cooked with a number of other notable chefs, and this May whipped up crepes for 100 runners at Eppie’s Kids Dualthon race.
All of this is quite an accomplishment for anyone, let alone a 9-year-old. Ultimately, Nicolas hopes cooking will help him reach his life goal of traveling the world to discover new species. (Which is, of course, every 9-year-old boy’s dream, isn’t it?) Along the way, he figures to explore the variety of foods prepared by the world’s various tribes.
In the meantime, it’s summer camp for the soon-to-be 10-year-old. I guess he’s got at least a couple of s’mores coming.
Keeping up with Nicolas
Since this post was published, Nicolas’ Garden and National Geographic Kids Magazine have teamed up to promote healthy recipes and kids cooking tips featured in “National Geographic Kids Cookbook.” See Nicolas make recipes from the cookbook on his YouTube channel.
He invites kids to follow along and send photos of their finished dishes to Nicolas@NicolasGarden.com, or share them on their Facebook page.
Have you found a sneaky way to get your kids to eat more vegetables? Tell us in the comments below.