Hrefna Rósa Sætran and Guðlaugur P. Frímannsson own and operate the Grillmarket. Their philosophy is to take the best ingredients available and prepare them with care and expertise.
Hrefna Rósa Sætran prides herself on using local products of high quality when cooking. Her dishes have been described as traditional Icelandic cuisine with a modern twist.
Guðlaugur P. Frímannsson trained at the restaurant Sjávarkjallarinn and was awarded the title Chef Trainee of the Year in 2007. After graduation Guðlaugur worked at The Fishmarket in Reykjavík, Texture in London and Kiin Kiin in Copenhagen, the latter two hold a Michelin star.
What’s the concept behind The Grillmarket?
Our aim was to create an Icelandic restaurant. The interior was to be inspired by the beautiful Icelandic nature and so was the food. We used local materials such as tanned skins of spotted wolffish, columnar basalt, moss and trestles to decorate the restaurant’s interior and the produce is predominantly Icelandic, much of it bought straight from local farmers.
Why is it important to work with local farmers?
By purchasing most of our goods from people we know and trust we can be sure that we are serving our customers the best produce available. Additionally, supporting local farmers is important to us and makes business more pleasurable and personal.
What makes your partnership unique?
We have known each other and worked together for a very long time and can finish each other’s sentences. It’s the same when we cook together, we hardly need to speak – it’s almost like magic. But most importantly, our relationship is based on mutual respect.
Where do you find inspiration for new and exciting dishes?
We find inspiration anywhere and everywhere: while cooking at home, at dinner with the in-laws or while dining at restaurants abroad. Ideas are also born as soon as you get your hands on premium products and from years of experience.
Had you not become chefs – what would you be doing today?
Gulli: I always dreamt of becoming a pilot. I thought travelling the world would be an exciting job. I’m also very into salmon fishing and would love to do that all day.
Hrefna: Product design. I love weird nick knacks and design that make people smile. In fact, I did to an introductory course in design some years ago. Who knows, perhaps one day I’ll find a way to combine design and cooking.
What’s a typical day in the kitchen like?
There is no such thing as a typical day when you work in a restaurant. Quiet days can become incredibly busy in a blink of an eye. We employ 150 people and that alone demands a lot of work. Owning and running a restaurant is hard work and you don’t clock out at 5 o’clock – you’re on duty every day, all day.
Which is more important: Passion for the produce or passion for the cooking?
If you are passionate about cooking, you’re passionate about the product. It goes hand in hand. It’s difficult to create a beautiful dish from bad products.
Why did you choose this location for your restaurant?
We already knew what type of restaurant we wanted to open – we just needed to find the perfect space. We fought hard for this location because it ticked all the boxes and we are very glad we got it.