Hrefna Rósa Sætran

Hrefna Rósa Sætran

Hrefna Rósa Sætran

Hrefna Rósa Sætran is the head chef at Fiskmarkaðurinn and co-owner and creator of Grillmarkaðurinn. Already a household name in Iceland, Hrefna has made her mark on Icelandic food culture with her restaurants, her recipe books, and her brand new and exciting product line.

Hrefna is also a spin-artist, relying on friends and colleagues to enter into the creative aspect of her restaurants and projects, be it in creating the menus or honing the atmosphere of the restaurants to perfection.

Her dishes have been described as traditional Icelandic cuisine with a modern twist. They are simple in a positive and fresh sense, yet colourful and fully alive.

The deep-fried dried fish is a perfect example of this. Harðfiskur (dried fish) has been an Icelandic favorite snack for centuries, providing wholesome nourishment and ample protein in every bite.

But Hrefna and the gang simply dipped it in green tempura and deep-fried it – and voilá! The outcome is spectacular and the dish instantly became a classic at Grillmarkaðurinn.

A short and sweet resume and also a few quotes from Hrefna herself

A short and sweet resume

Hrefna Rósa Sætran completed her chef’s internship at Apotek Restaurant in Reykjavík. She was a member of the first Junior Culinary Team of Iceland and became head chef of Maru restaurant while she was still in training. After graduating, Hrefna began her career at the Michelin-starred restaurant Léa Linster in Luxembourg.

Hrefna returned to Iceland and continued her career at Sjávarkjallarinn (Seafood Cellar) where she became head chef in one year. In 2004, Hrefna became a member of the Icelandic National Culinary Team and competed twice in the Culinary World Championships.

Hrefna was a mentor of the Icelandic Junior Culinary Team when they won a gold medal for their performance in their first competition. Hrefna has travelled extensively to broaden her culinary vision and visited over twenty Michelin-starred restaurants around the world.

A few quotes and a little interview-insight into Hrefna Sætran’s mindset:

Who travels for two weeks around the country, just to figure out what to serve? Well, Hrefna does. And husband Bjössi tagged along and photographed the whole thing:

I travelled around Iceland for two weeks with my husband, Bjössi. We had done some research regarding quality farmers and visited them, one by one, spent some time with them, interviewed them and checked out their products. It was ‘quality time’ in the country, soaked in organic products and discussions on food and farming products. The result was a long list of Icelandic raw material that I wanted to work with and would constitute the menu at Grillmarkaðurinn.
— Hrefna Sætran
 

People keep coming back, over and over and over again, and both Grillmarkaðurinn and Fiskmarkaðurinn have remained fully seated, night after night, since opening. The success has something to do with a strong passion:

During my twenties I forgot about my old dream and turned towards other things, like studying design. But in retrospect, I was always half-way there. For example, when I was studying design, I used to run home during lunch break, just to watch my favorite cooking program on BBC. My mother laughed at me because she always knew I would end up working with my true passion – food.
— Hrefna Sætran
 

So, Hrefna Rósa Sætran is a woman with an obvious passion for food and atmosphere. That passion can be traced back to age four, when in a restaurant she had salmon with a lemon twist and a warm baguette with butter on the side. It’s a simple culinary memory indeed, but the memory has stayed with her, vividly:

To this day, my favorite single ingredient is salmon. The ultimate thrill is to have a fresh whole salmon in front of me, cutting it up and preparing it for sushi and other dishes – even picking and counting all of it’s 32 bones ... it is just so beautiful and fascinating ...
— Hrefna Sætran