The world-renowned Reykjavík Food and Fun Festival kicks off today at various restaurants around the city and will run till March 3rd.

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The festival joins some of the most sought after chefs in the world with Reykjavík’s best restaurants to prepare menus and delight palates, all inspired by fresh Icelandic ingredients.

Credit: Food and Fun Reykjavik Facebook

Now in its 18th year, the Reykjavík Food and Fun Festival was born out of the need to spark culinary interest during the offseason in Iceland. To deal with this, a group of industry professionals decided to hold a competition between Icelandic and foreign chefs. The first festival was held in February of 2002 with the support of Icelandair, the Icelandic Hotel and Gastronomy School and the City of Reykjavik.

The competition was a success, and Reykjavík Food and Fun has been an annual event ever since.

Credit: Food and Fun Reykjavik Facebook

Throughout the festival, chefs from the USA and Europe aim to create affordable gourmet menus in conjunction with restaurants in Reykjavík. The visiting chefs are required to use Icelandic ingredients as the centrepieces of their dishes. This focus aims to bring attention to the agricultural and seafood products available locally.

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At the end of the festival, celebrity chef judges choose three top finalists who will then compete for the title of Reykjavík Food and Fun chef of the year.

Ryan Rogers is a Canadian chef participating. Credit: Food and Fun Official Site

Some of the restaurants participating in the festival include; Apótek, Essensia, Geiri Smart, Nostra and Sumac, with a total of 15 in the competition. As an addition this year, Food and Fun are adding a category called ‘off menu.’ This category allows gastropubs and street food vendors to participate, opening up the experience of the festival to a broader public. This means venues like; Public House, Bjórgarðurinn and the new Korean inspired street food venue Kore, can participate.

Essensia’s Food and Fun menu. Credit: Food and Fun Official Site.

The full list of venues participating can be found on the festival’s official website here.

The influence of the festival over the past 18 years has dramatically changed the culinary landscape of Iceland. Local chefs have been encouraged to find new ways to experiment with the ingredients available to them, helping to keep Iceland in a top place on the food map of the world.

If you check out the festival and can recommend any of the venues, tell us in the Facebook comments below.