Team Iceland on the Podium with Icelandic Lamb at Culinary Olympics

Icelandic Lamb may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word Olympics, but it played a major role in helping the Icelandic Culinary Team wow the judges at this year’s Culinary Olympics in the category of National Teams. The competition was fierce, but the most talented chefs in Iceland, using only Icelandic ingredients of the highest caliber, were up to the challenge.

What does it take to make it to the Olympics?

Creating the sort of dishes that will impress some of the most discerning palates in the world doesn’t happen overnight. Team Iceland’s training began almost 9 months before the main event, logging hundreds of hours of preparation time. Included in that time is the process of sourcing the highest quality ingredients from across Iceland, from land to sea.

Among the high-quality ingredients that made the cut are wild cod, haddock, and shellfish, caught off the coast of the island, quail, locally grown Icelandic vegetables, skyr (Icelandic-style yogurt) sourced from local dairy farms and, of course, PDO-certified Icelandic lamb.

With the ingredients secured and transported with the team for the competition, all that is left to do is work seamlessly as a team to create amazing dishes under intense international pressure and scrutiny. It may sound daunting, but if there’s one thing the land of earthquakes, volcanos, and the worst weather in the North Atlantic has taught Icelanders, it’s to perform well under pressure.

The Main Event

Team Iceland is composed of best of the best the Icelandic culinary scene has to offer and an equally talented team manager. For the competition, only six people at a time are allowed to compete in the kitchen, with the addition of one assistant making sure there are always clean dishes and utensils at the ready.

The competition is divided into two events beginning with Chef’s Table, preparing an 11-course menu for a table of 12. Second is a three-course menu served for 110 guests, this is where Icelandic lamb takes center stage as the main course:

Lamb filet, crispy skin, buckwheat and ramson capers

Potato filled with lamb shoulder, fennel pollen.

Paté choux pastry filled with fried mushrooms, Feykir cheese foam.

Whey glazed carrot, mornay sauce, lemon thyme.

Ragout of chanterelles, green peas, and kohlrabi, lamb jus.

Is your mouth watering yet?

With such a strong showing, Team Iceland came out winning two golds in the competition, resulting in a third place in the overall score, making it to the podium.

The Takeaway

Participating in international events and highlighting the wealth of quality ingredients to be found in Iceland, such as PDO-certified Icelandic Lamb, isn’t just about showing off the skills and talents of Icelandic chefs. As team manager Snædís Xyza Mae Ocampo points out:

“The Icelandic Culinary Team has many roles: coaching champions of the industry, creating role models for young people and, last but not least, working on developing and improving Icelandic cuisine and food culture for locals and our visitors to enjoy, with respect for both our history and the ingredients.”

Needless to say, Icelandic lamb is proud to be a part of Team Iceland.

Want to try your hand at creating an amazing dish using Icelandic lamb? Check out the Culinary Olympics dish