Food and Fun Festival Returns to Reykjavík

A waiter holding two dishes in Hlemmur Food Hall

Fifteen Reykjavík restaurants will take part in the 20th edition of the Food and Fun Festival, which returns to the Icelandic capital March 1-4, mbl.is reports. Foreign chefs will be invited to cook at the restaurants, where they have the opportunity to get to experiment with Icelandic ingredients. Hungry foodies will be able to book a table around mid-February.

“There are a lot of foreigners that attend the festival, there are a lot of tourists that are curious about Icelandic cuisine,” says Siggi Hall, a master chef and one of the festival organisers. “Once upon a time there were few tourists at this time of year but that’s no longer the case. Today, many people come here for the food, because the food is without a doubt the third or fourth attraction, besides nature and the northern lights.”

Food and Fun was originally organised to attract tourists to Iceland during the off season as well as to showcase the country’s agricultural and seafood products. During the festival, foreign chefs from the USA and Europe team up with local restaurants to create gourmet menus at affordable prices. As the festival website points out, not only do the foreign chefs get to know Icelandic ingredients, but they can also make locals see those ingredients in a new way, such as using Icelandic skyr for sauces rather than desserts.

In previous editions of the festival, celebrity chef judges have also been invited to rate the culinary creations, and three chefs have been chosen as finalists to compete for the title of Food and Fun Chef of the Year. A list of participating chefs and restaurants from past years is available on the festival website.

Hungry for More

When opening acclaimed restaurant Agern in New York, Gunnar Karl Gíslason tasted twenty different types of butter before he found one he liked. His pastry chefs sourced several kinds of organic milk because the ice creams made from regular milk tasted off to him. He never did end up finding lamb that met his standards in the US, though he found a single farm in the mountains of Pennsylvania whose grass-fed sheep he deemed adequate to serve his guests. But in Reykjavík, he’ll scarf down the local classic – a hot dog with ‘everything:’ crispy fried onion, fresh onion, mustard, remoulade, and ketchup – like the Akureyri-raised country boy he is. There’s a catch though: he’ll only get one from certain shops where they heat the sausages the way he likes them and serve the right kind of ketchup.

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