© 2023 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

At 13, he begged his mother to let him cook. Now this Blue Valley teen runs a creperie on wheels

Karizma Nola, a junior in Blue Valley, is the owner of Krazy Crepes.
Channa Steinmetz
/
Startland News
Karizma Nola, a junior in Blue Valley, is the owner of Krazy Crepes.

Karizma Nola, a junior at Blue Valley High School, opened Krazy Crepes in April 2022 and has since popped up at neighborhood events and small business celebrations.

Last Christmas, Karizma Nola and his family took a trip to Colorado where they came across the most unforgettable crepes, he recalled. This holiday season, Nola has a spatula in hand as he shares his own culinary passion with Kansas City.

“I’ve always thought about being an entrepreneur; I just didn’t expect it to happen so soon,” said Nola, a junior at Blue Valley High School and founder of Krazy Crepes. “But I’ve grown up around the food and beverage industry, and I love the feeling of being in a busy kitchen.”

Krazy Crepes officially opened April 2022 after the previous owner of a food truck-turned-creperie decided to sell the business.

“It was crazy how quick the opportunity was given to us,” Nola said, noting that he and his mother, Christine Tran, were discussing purchasing a food truck just the day prior. “We were able to buy everything she had from the crepe makers to all the storage. We didn’t have to change much, which allowed us to get going pretty quickly.”

The Krazy Crepes team is solely run by Nola and Tran, with friends and family helping out from time to time. As a single mother of four teenagers, Tran values the time she’s able to spend working alongside her son in the food truck, she shared.

“I work a full-time job and have three other very active teenagers; we all know that teenagers usually do not want to have anything to do with their parents, so I really consider this a blessing,” Tran said, laughing.

Family of chefs 

Throughout his adolescence, Nola has spent time with his aunt and uncle in Big Sky, Montana, where they owned a restaurant. Watching them experiment and cook mouth-watering dishes inspired Nola to do the same, he shared.

“Creating the menu [for Krazy Crepes] took a lot of time and practice,” Nola said. “I had a lot of my family taste my crepes to make sure they were right before adding them to the menu.”

Watching her son pursue his passions has been rewarding, Tran said — recalling the moment she realized that Nola had a talent in the kitchen.

When Nola was 13, he begged his mother to let him make fried chicken. Showing her that he had been researching how and watching YouTube videos for the past several weeks, Nola convinced Tran to let him try.

Christine Tran (middle) with members of the KC Athletic Club during a Krazy Crepes pop up.
Channa Steinmetz
/
Startland News
Christine Tran (middle) with members of the KC Athletic Club during a Krazy Crepes pop up.

“I went out to buy him everything he needed to fry chicken, and that was my first memorable experience of his cooking,” Tran said. “It was one of the best fried chicken dinners I’ve ever had. So from that point on, it didn’t matter how much it cost or what he wanted to do, as long as he was pursuing his passion, I supported it.”

Along with attending Blue Valley schools, Nola takes culinary and hospitality classes at Johnson County Community College.

Balancing school and the food truck is challenging, Nola admitted, noting that he will sometimes go straight from school to working an event or meeting with a mentor.

“One of my mentors is a man named Stephen [Monroe] who has his own food truck,” Nola noted. “He’s given me tips on getting started, booking events and how everything goes down in the industry.”

For those interested in finding out where Krazy Crepes will be popping up next, Nola recommended following the business on Facebook or Instagram.

Connecting through food

Krazy Crepes has popped up at neighborhood events, small business celebrations and anywhere people want to gather over delicious food, Nola said.

Its menu features both sweet and savory crepes, but with a sweet tooth himself, Nola definitely has a personal preference.

“The Krazy Nutella has strawberries, Nutella and powdered sugar and is a great choice for people who are trying crepes for the first time,” Nola said. “But really, you can’t go wrong with any crepe on the menu.”

Krazy Crepes is more than a food truck or business, Tran said; rather, it is an opportunity for her young son and his friends to learn how to be responsible and give back to their community.

“It’s an avenue for us to share our love and kindness to people within the community; that is a lifelong skill,” Tran said. “It’s not about the money or the business right now; it’s about the people, instilling values and learning how to treat them — which will take you much further than a dollar.”

Nola’s dream is to continue serving people through food, he shared. Once he graduates from college, he hopes to work alongside his family in the service industry until he is ready to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant.

“I love how food has the ability to connect people,” Nola said. “Anyone can go to dinner and get to know someone else over a nice dinner. It helps when it’s a great environment and the food is really good, so I want to provide that for people.”

This story was originally published on Startland News, a fellow member of the KC Media Collective.

KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and powerful storytelling.
Your donation helps make nonprofit journalism available for everyone.