In a bid to promote its culinary heritage, a cuisine that can be inscrutable for many unfamiliar with Nordic culture, Iceland’s tourism office organized what it’s calling the world’s largest supper club over the weekend.
It took a team of eight chefs six hours to prepare the multi-course meal of salted cod, Icelandic shrimp, local lamb and a colorful assortment of salads and vegetables for the international guest list at a “secret” location in Reykjavik’s Old Harbor. Over 300 guests were welcomed by Einar Örn Benediktsson, head of Reykjavik’s Department of Culture and Tourism and former member of Icelandic post-punk band The Sugarcubes.
The dinner was hosted as part of Reykjavik’s Food & Fun Festival, which wrapped up over the weekend. It was also the culmination of an online contest from last year that asked fans to rename the country in a moment of recognition that their namesake is somewhat of a misnomer.
Inga Hlín Pálsdóttir, Director, Marketing & Visit Iceland at Promote Iceland, says: “Food and music are at the heart of Icelandic culture and we like to welcome visitors to experience both with open arms. It’s such a pleasure to have been able to share Iceland’s first ever Supper Club with Icelanders and visitors from around the world.”
Despite its name, Iceland enjoys variable but temperate weather with average winter temperatures in the lowlands hovering around 0C. In the highlands, the mercury tends to average around -10C.
In three weeks, more than 10,000 people responded with suggestions that included Lavaland, Puffinland, Wonderland and the Promised Land.
The guest list was culled from among the participants who made suggestions and who were flown in for the occasion, as well as local residents.
It’s the latest innovative idea out of the Icelandic tourism office, which has been reaching out to international globetrotters with campaigns that include a roving mobile restaurant that hosted dinner parties at dramatic sites around the country, and an open-house experience in which the country’s president encouraged locals to open up their homes and give tourists an authentic Icelandic welcome.