Nordic Food for Many

Goes to a person or an organization, who has done an extraordinary effort to encourage meals, quality and a Nordic food culture in public meals.

Iceland – Dominique Plédel Jónsson

Has dedicated 25 years of her life to good, clean and fair food from Iceland

Dominique is born French and moved to Iceland in 1970. She is married to an Icelander and has two children and 6 grandchildren. She is a geographer by education from French University, has lived for 10 years in Denmark and Norway and for the last 18 years has run her own Wine School for professionals and general public with international certifications, where she followed in many ways Slow Food values for organic and natural wines.

She is now the leader of Slow Food Reykjavík (since 2008) and Slow Food in the Nordic Countries (2019) and has been an active Slow Food member from 1996, being a founding member of Slow Food Reykjavik. From the very start, she has been an educative support for the promotion of local food and small producers, when it was not yet a topic addressed by many actors in the food systems organisation. Meeting Carlo Petrini, President of Slow Food, in many occasions, she has realised how much of a visionary he is and sticks close to what is really important in the daily life of our society – he nicknamed Dominique “Babette” as a reference to the film Babettes Gæstebud!.

Dominique has been touring Iceland for many years to open a dialogue with chefs, farmers, producers, schools all over the country about the possibilities and necessity of developing local food and show the feasibility of – and the reason for – producing „good, clean and fair“ food products in Iceland. At the same time (2007-2021), as a journalist at the only gourmet magazine of Iceland, Gestgjafinn, she had – apart from wine reviews and articles – monthly chronicles about in season food, interviews with chefs (asking for their views about the future of Icelandic food) and small producers, paying them all a visit to present their production and point of view at a time when Beint frá Býli (“Direct from the farm”) project started. This way she reached out to a gourmet audience and to the main influencers on a subject which was to grow solidly.

She organised in the Nordic House 2009 a Slow Food event, first of its kind, calling together the small producers seeking contact with the consumers: cattle breeder selling his own meat in his farm-shop (the very first), baker making sourdough bread (the very first), organic vegetable greenhouses, barley and wheat producer and many more – together with 10 minutes talks in the conference room on important topics such as organic farming, animal welfare, administrative hindrances for selling own products,… This was completely new and met a huge success with record participation and visitors. This was followed by the first events around fighting food waste, by organising a “Disco Soup” in the same venue, collecting discarded food from the supermarkets in her small car and organising lunch for 200 persons out of it. This was followed by many and was the first step into a real reflexion about how Icelanders are wasting food.

As a leader for Slow Food in Iceland, she organised the participation of Icelandic small producers at the international Slow Food exhibition and event Salone del Gusto in Turin (Italy), which every second year reaches 250 000 visitors and is by far the largest food event dedicated to general public and has been called the largest market place in the world. The first Icelandic participation took place in 2012 with 3 producers and was in 2016 on a much larger scale and with the support of Promote Iceland. At the parallel event Terra Madre, where 5 to 8000 delegates from every part of the world meet to exchange and present their activities and topics of the present time in a deeper way, she has organised seminars and tastings with Icelandic specificities beyond the products alone: specific conservation methods, specificity of Icelandic skyr (which is now close to be a commodity which has missed these peculiar specificities), presentation of Icelandic cuisine in its creativity – and much more. This has resulted not only in direct sales and contacts (as an example, Noma and Icelandic seaweed and geothermal salt) but also in opening the possibilities for Icelandic producers to see what is done elsewhere, learn from other producers throughout the whole world, realise that they have large capacities of offering the best of the products from their own raw materials, when nearly everybody looked into globalisation of food production.

This followed Dominique up together with Slow Food Denmark by the organisation of a Terra Madre Nordic in Copenhagen in 2018, on the model of Terra Madre in Turin, which was taking more and more importance with this exceptional platform of exchanges through tastings, workshops, seminars, and more. The Nordic Council of Ministers supported the project financially and the result was way beyond all expectations. Dominique organised the participation of Icelandic producers once again with the support of Promote Iceland, which made possible to send one of the best Icelandic chefs to the event and send products to Denmark. As in Terra Madre in Turin, solid contacts were made with our Nordic neighbours, long lasting for most of them. Dominique is now, as leader of Slow Food in the Nordic Countries, preparing the next edition of Terra Madre Nordic (in partnership with Eldrimner in Sweden), which has been as so many events, a victim of the pandemic but will take place in early autumn 2022, again with financial support of the Nordic Council of Ministers where Dominique is the contact and spokesman of the board of SFiNC.

Dominique has as well been part of the jury during the Artisan Food competition organised by Matís (Institute for R&D in food and biotechnologies), has been a popular guest on radio programs dedicated to the main questions addressed by Slow Food, like short distribution circuits, organic farming, importance of small producers, food sovereignty, raw milk, necessity of turning more to local food – and more. She is a founding member of the Association of artisan food producers (SSFM), and member of the consulting committee.

In short it would be possible and honest to say that she has dedicated 25 years of her life to good, clean and fair food from Iceland (and the Nordic Countries!) on a totally voluntary basis, activist from the grass root with a vision and a mission – access for all to good food produced locally, clean of all  pesticides and manipulations, fair to the producer as much as for the consumer. Not as a privilege, but as a human right. And this is what the world is speaking of now.