The Food and Fun Festival
The origins of the Festival can be traced back to the fact that the late winter months of February and March are off-season months in the Icelandic tourism industry. There was a severe decrease in seasonal tourism during this period and it was clear that something had to be done.
An idea was born to hold a competition between Icelandic and foreign culinary professionals, and thus with the support of Icelandair, the Icelandic Hotel and Gastronomy School and the City of Reykjavik, the first Festival was held in February 2002.
The festival has since then gained worldwide recognition and become an annual event, held in Reykjavík in February or March.
Chefs from the USA and Europe are invited to Iceland and team up with local restaurants to create gourmet menus at affordable prices, for the one-week competition. From the very beginning, foreign chefs have shown the project great interest and fewer have been able to participate than wanted. This has thus become an internationally renowned gastronomical festival that attracts chefs and guests from all over the world to Reykjavik to join up with the local restaurant scene and participate in a cooking event.
"All are grown sustainably in the clean surroundings of the unspoiled nature of Iceland"
The Festival has become very popular in Iceland and during the festival week, most restaurants in Reykjavik are packed with customers and the aroma of the finest cooking skills is in the air. The city is full of action during these days and the atmosphere is vibrant, joyful and friendly. The Festival most certainly makes it easier for the moody and winter barren Icelanders to survive these last, cold and dark days of winter - with spring just around the corner.
As the main purpose of the Festival has been to attract tourists to Iceland and gain media coverage of different aspects of the country’s agricultural and seafood products, the guest chefs are required to use only Icelandic material for the centrepieces of their dishes. The visiting chefs see how much freshness and variety can be found in Icelandic products; the fresh fish, the free range and unique lamb and the smooth organic dairy products, which are considered to be one of the finest in the world. All are grown sustainably in the clean surroundings of the unspoiled nature of Iceland, an island situated in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
"Glöggt er gests augað” - "the guest’s eye sees clearly"
The chefs have not only been impressed with the quality of the Icelandic produce but also seen many possibilities in them, which Icelanders had not yet discovered. A good example is the Icelandic “skyr”. Icelanders have traditionally regarded skyr as a sweet dessert, but most of the guest chefs, who had never seen it before, experimented by adding it to all sorts of sauces. This cooperation between the Icelandic and foreign chefs has taught Icelanders several new ways to use of their own material. An old Icelandic proverb, which is especially appropriate in this context, states, that “glöggt er gests augað” - the guest’s eye sees clearly.
Celebrity chef judges are invited to rate all the food, and three chefs are chosen as finalists to compete for the title of Food and Fun Chef of the Year as well as a number of foreign reporters have attended the festival and more come each year.
Combine Reykjavik’s legendary nightlife, the country’s natural beauty and lots of outdoor adventure, with the Festival’s amazing food and you get the great sweet – everlasting Food and Fun Festival!