Arctic foods and restaurants
If there’s one place on earth where ingredients are scarce, it’s the Arctic.
Yet while fine dining and the Arctic Circle seem like words that shouldn’t belong in the same sentence, Filip Gemzell, the head chef of Huset — the most northerly gourmet restaurant in the world — disagrees.
On the Arctic Circle island of Svalbard, Huset has been creating dishes inspired and fueled by the surrounding polar landscape, but with little growing on the ice-covered island it’s not easy.
“Almost nothing grows here, which makes it very difficult to build a menu in the same way as you would do on mainland — however, this creates a unique opportunity to be creative as a chef,” Gemzell tells USA TODAY. “We focus on using as much of the local produce [as] we possibly can, and we have a very close relationship with our hunters and trappers who provide us with protein such as reindeer, bearded seal, goose, grouse and common eider eggs.”
Farming is difficult in the Arctic regions, and in the far north where edible plants are extremely scarce, it’s virtually impossible. The ice caps of the North Pole are some of the harshest living conditions on Earth, where a rifle, fishing rod and patience are still required tools to survive.
And the closer to the North Pole, the more important meat becomes. In fact, hunting and trapping is still practiced in the world’s far north, both for families and individuals living on the edge of civilization as well as a gourmet restaurant like Huset. Gemzell even says that along with other chefs, he will frequently venture out into the icy arctic fjords to catch fish for that day’s menu.
Despite the challenges, Gemzell insists that Arctic food can not only be good, but that by being sourced in and influenced by one of the world’s most unique and fragile regions, it’s experiential.
“The inspiration behind our cooking simply comes from all those things around us, the few things growing and the unique wildlife,” Gemzell adds. “At Huset we try not to provide a meal, but a way to experience Svalbard on a plate.”
See the photos above for the unique food travelers can experience in the Arctic, plus more regional winter dishes below.