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Mission Europe: Gunnar Karl Gislason – Flavors of Fire & Ice

The chef had a bright friendly smile and an array of ingredients unfamiliar to me set out on the countertop.  Gunnar Gislason was from Iceland and his restaurant’s name was simple but fresh…Dill.  He joked about visitors coming to his country and being disappointed at the lack of actual ice in Iceland.  Although I thought it was impossible for him to look happier, he cheered up even more when talking about his home, his restaurant and the people he knew.

The menu he informed us that we would taste sounded exotic with charred leeks and angelica spiced lamb.  Chef Gunnar Gislason had me intrigued when he explained he would be making a dessert with rutabagas.  RUTABAGAS!  Being a legitimate southern girl, I am familiar with this particular ingredient, but the closest I have come to having it as a dessert was when it was served pureed with apples as a side dish.  Needless to say I was very interested.  I like rutabagas, but if he could turn them into a dessert, I would be more than impressed.

Chef Gunnar Gislason spoke of using seasonal ingredients to create a constantly changing menu and providing options for diners to enjoy a 3, 5 or 7 course meal.  Throughout the workshop he demonstrated and explained the different techniques that transformed rustic ingredients into gourmet dishes that were different from anything else I had ever tasted.  The flavor profiles he presented were clean and simple, but simultaneously elegant.

If I had to summarize the workshop with 3 of my favorite moments, they would be:

1.       Watching the chef illustrate a hay smoking technique that I cannot wait to try.

2.       Tasting the rutabaga dessert.  It was very good.  Playful, different and delicious…everything a good dessert should be.

3.       Actually talking to Chef Gunnar Gislason.  He was super nice and very interesting.

I very much enjoyed Chef Gunnar Gislason’s workshop.  It was interesting and different.  No other workshop I participated in was quite like it and when I left, I walked out feeling good.  It was that kind of class, the kind that leaves you smiling.

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