Nordic Food Communicator

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Iceland – Gunnar K. Gíslason

A Michelin-star chef in the heart of Reykjavík

DILL restaurant was founded in 2009, by Gunnar Karl Gíslason, with the aim of delivering a unique and memorable experience of Iceland. Since their inception, they have continued to explore new methods and preparations of native ingredients that brings new life to the plate and the guest experience. Founding chef Gunnar Karl Gíslason, is at the restaurants helm, prepared to explore the vast and multi-faceted Icelandic countryside with his guests and deliver a procession of dishes that one might say is as predictable as the Icelandic weather. At DILL, the staff endeavor to respect all the raw materials that come to them, no matter how big or small, and utilize everything. Each thing grabs their attention and they do everything to make use of it.

Inspired by the Icelandic landscape and dedicated to fresh ingredients, foraging and sustainability, at DILL, the aim is to share an exceptional dining experience that reflects the compelling characteristics of Iceland. DILL is based on a Nordic ideology in cooking and emphasize on the raw materials and traditions from Iceland. The simplicity is the key to let the ingredients flourish, unique as Iceland is. The food tells the story of the nature of Iceland and the farmers, that have cultivated their gardens generations after generations.

Since Gunnar was a kid he worked every summer at farms out in the countryside. He had a dream to become a farmer but when he entered a professional kitchen for the first time, his plans immediately changed. At the age of 16 he got a job as a dishwasher and loved the atmosphere in the kitchen and shortly after he started his apprenticeship. After finishing culinary school in Reykjavík, Gunnar worked at a host of restaurants in Europe, from the classic French-style kitchen of Hótel Holt in Iceland´s capital to Christie´s and Saison in Denmark. Next stop for Gunnar was the two-Michelin-starred restaurant Kommandanten in Denmark, followed by a stint at two-Michelin-starred Ensembel. After returning to Iceland and working under celebrity chef Siggi Hall, Gunnar took the Sous Chef-position at acclaimed brasserie VOX in 2005 focusing more and more on Iceland´s wondrous native ingredients. In 2009 he then opened his own restaurant, DILL.

DILL opened in the Nordic House in Reykjavík which was designed by the very famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. The goal of Gunnar to foster and support cultural connections between Iceland and the other Nordic countries came truly to life in his first own restaurant where his dream of opening some kind of a Nordic kitchen came true. Everything he could get his hands on from the Nordic countries became a mission and then later on his focus became more and more about Iceland and what it has to offer. Through the exploration and showcase of native Icelandic ingredients, Dill has become one of the country’s most lauded restaurants, boasting one Michelin Star and being awarded Best Restaurant in Iceland by White Guide Nordic.

The motto of Gunnar is to always move forward and always try to be better, even if it means taking big risks. The menu at DILL is always evolving and now they focus more on sustainability than before with no wastage. The staff at Dill try their best to stay local, and all main ingredients are always sourced locally. The restaurant’s ambience is designed to accentuate the menu and dining experience, ensuring guests can comfortably enjoy their meal. The restaurant is really set up to be earthy, warm and cosy. Gunnar wanted to create a space where his guests could feel at ease. A space where one feels welcome and comfortable. Everything from the décor to the lights and music should be warm, welcoming and unpretentious.

The chef has also written his own cookbook, in which he brings his culinary philosophy to the forefront. Titled North: The New Northern Cuisine of Iceland, the book shines a spotlight on Icelandic ingredients, producers, wild plants, and tradition, mirroring his ethos at Dill.