Tasty days ahead in the Westman Islands: Seafood Festival MATEY starting
Four excellent guest chefs will be showcasing their culinary art in the Westman islands at the festival. Composite image
The seafood festival MATEY will be held for the second time on September 21-23rd, with a bang. It is true that the Westman Islands are already on the world’s culinary map, and the festival has attracted a lot of attention around the world. In recent days, foreign media, foodies, and food aficionados flock to the Westman Islands to participate in the festival.
Frosti Gíslason is one of the pioneers in establishing the seafood festival MATEY and has been the project manager of MATEY Seafood Festival from the outset. When asked, Gíslason says that last year’s festival was a success and the program will be in a similar format this year, with new guest chefs coming in and showcasing their art in the kitchen at four local restaurants where the local produce and ingredients will be at the forefront.
Frosti Gíslason here with Berglind Sigmarsdóttir, the manager of the Tourist board of the Westman Islands and Gísli Auðunn Matthíasson, chef and the owner of restaurants Slippurinn and Næs. Photo/Karl Petersson
Novel dishes made from exceptional ingredients
“The food producers in the Westman Islands, fish producers, restaurants and tourism operators join forces and hold a great seafood festival, offering a fraction of the best food produced in the island where foreign guest chefs will come and serve novel dishes made from the exceptional ingredients from the local companies in the Westman Islands and serve the local restaurants,” says Gíslason.
Today, the MATEY Seafood Festival will officially open with a performance, an original music act and interesting business. The opening festival will take place in Eldheimar and is open to everyone. “There will be tastings and a variety of dishes from fish producers and other food producers in the islands. The exhibition “Women in a Marine Society” will open at that time. Artistic director Gíslína Dögg Bjarkadóttir is the exhibitor, and 12 artists who are members of the Westman Islands Arts and Culture Society, among others, will exhibit individual works or series related to the theme, with a total of about 23 works.
Birgir Nielsen will debut a new musical and video project, entitled Whales of Iceland, which includes sounds from whales that were recorded around the Westman Islands by a research team from the University of Iceland. The chefs will tell you about the dishes they will produce at the festival and other interesting activities will be held,” says Gíslason, who is fully in anticipation of the day.
World class guest chefs serve unique dishes
Extraordinary guest chefs have come to the Islands. “Our guests have come from different countries, but great guest chefs who come from Britain, France, Italy and Ireland have been very interesting to watch, and it has been interesting to see the ambitious and constructive interactions of our cooks with the guest chefs who come to us for the MATEY Seafood Festival. The chefs will be at four of the local restaurants, but almost all of the local restaurants will also be serving specialties for the festival.”
Last year's festival was a hit. Here are Gísli Auðunn Matttíasson, Leif Sorensen who was guest chef at Slippurinn, Chris Golding who was guest chef at GOTT and Sigurður Gíslason at work last year. Photo/Karl Petersson
Westman Islands as a food destination
The MATEY Seafood Festival was held for the first time in September 2022. “The festival was a hit, and the festival’s guests were over the moon, and all the festival’s partners requested to be back with them.” Accordingly, it was decided to develop the idea and to have a new festival in September 2023. Last year’s festival received a lot of positive media coverage, which resulted in improved marketing of the Westman Islands as a food destination and supports the image of the Westman Islands as one of Iceland’s main seaside communities.”
What is the history behind the festival?
“The festival’s start can be traced back to two projects: the project Marine Society I’ve been working on for several years and the preparation of the Icelandic Tourist Association for events to extend the tourist season. Our ideas for an event entitled MATEY Seafood festival today had to be combined,” says Gíslason. The Westman Islands Tourist Association are holding the festival, which is backed by numerous parties. “These include the high-performing fish processing industry in the Islands and food producers such as Ísfélagið, VSV, Leo Seafood, Grími chef, Marhómar, Iðunni Seafood, Saltey, Aldingróður, Hótel and accommodation such as Westman Islands, Ocean Luxury Villas, Hótel Vestmannaeyjar, PuffinNest. NORA, Fab Lab Vestmannaeyjar, Lista-and culture, Eldheimar, Svalin í Eyjum, Vigtin bakery, Ribsafari, Brothers Brewery, Westman Island restaurants and other parties.”
Gíslason says that the goal of the festival is to further enhance the Westman Islands and raise awareness of the Islands as a food destination in Iceland. “The seafood festival MATEY is an important part of further strengthening the Westman Islands as one of Iceland’s main food destinations and supports the improvement in the image of fish production in the Westman Islands. The project is an innovative project and extends the tourism season in the Westman Islands and promotes the diversity of the economy through interactions between cultural tourism and supports the marketing of food production in the Westman Islands. The project promotes sustainability as there is increased emphasis on the use of local food in local restaurants. The project is a collaborative project between a number of industry actors and is a foundation for collaborative collaboration in more areas,” Frosti stated.
Tasty days ahead
The festival’s program has interesting performances on offer at today’s opening festival in Matey in Eldheimur and performances that run throughout the festival. The restaurants in Eyjum Gott, Slippurinn, Einsi Cold and Næs will offer multi-course menus by some of the best chefs in the world participating in the festival as guest chefs. The restaurants Sæland, Tanginn, Kráin and Pítsagerðin and Pizza 67, Næs og Gott will be serving specials and Brothers Brewery will be serving up a new beer for the festival. The guest chefs will be at GOTT, Slippurinn, Einsi Kaldi and Næs.
Adam Quershi is guest chef at GOTT restaurant
Quershi comes from the Michelin-starred Kol restaurant in London, which ranks 23rd in the world's top restaurants in 2023. "He has worked in restaurants across the globe, from Paris to Tokyo, Lima to Peru and the Caribbean islands. In Kol restaurant the focus is on using local British ingredients and applying Mexican methods to create unique dishes influenced by Mexican cooking. He will make use of our great seafood from the Westman Islands with the same ideology and create a unique dining experience.”
Cúán Greene will be guest chef at Slippurinn
Greene is an Irish chef and owner of Ómós Digest in Ireland. He has previously worked in many of the best restaurants in the world such as the Michelin restaurants Noma and Geranium. He was also the head chef at the Bastille restaurant in Dublin.
“Greene works mainly with local ingredients in season, as they do at Slippurinn, but his goal in participating at MSTEY is to invite people to experience a combination of Irish and Icelandic food cultures with a lot in common in the ingredients of the countries. He is known for thinking outside the box and providing unforgettable dining experiences.”
Francesco Triscornia guest chef at Einsi Kaldi
Triscornia has worked in countries such as Hong Kong, France and Thailand, and has been mentored by Italian Michelin chef Italo Bassi. “After 5 years as head chef at Corsica, he is currently working in various projects in North Toscana. At MATEY, he will demonstrate the quality of our seafood products with an Italian twist.”
Adrien Bouquet guest chef at Næs
Adrien Bouquet is a French chef with a wealth of experience in many of the most exciting places in the Paris including Clownbar & Cheval d'Or.
“His passion lies in the Japanese cuisine he learned both in Paris and in Japan, and the use of excellent fish. The menu has been in preparation between Næs and Bouquet, with both Japanese and French vibes to be expected with our ingredients from the Westman Islands.”
Improved image of the Westman Islands and the benefits
What does this do for a community like Vestmannaeyjar to get such fantastic culinary masters at the restaurants?
“The benefits of the MATEY Seafood Festival are improved in the image of the Westman Islands as a food destination. The discussion and awareness of the food production of the Westman Islands has a significant market value for local food producers and tourism operators. The project leads to increased innovation, productivity and productivity of a strong economy. The project has a positive impact on the quality of life and the livelihood of the residents, increased diversity and collaboration between the different parties. The carbon footprint for tourists will be reduced with changing consumption patterns as products are increasingly offered locally and are not imported. The project has a positive impact with increased environmental awareness and encourages sustainable consumption. The availability of locally produced products is increased. The competitiveness of local businesses is strengthened by increased collaboration. Gíslason says the festival is truly here to stay. “I encourage people to come and participate, to make reservations at our amazing restaurants and try these magical dishes from these great guest chefs who come from France, Ireland, the UK and Italy, and also guests can go for specials at the many local restaurants and taste our great fish and springs from the islands.”
Interested parties can find out more and book here .