Five minutes with… Aggi Sverrisson

The Michelin-starred chef on returning to Iceland, taking the reins at Moss, the fine dining restaurant at The Retreat at Blue Lagoon, and the joy of Icelandic seafood

Food and Drink 18 Jun 2021

Chef Aggi Sverrisson
The Retreat at The Blue Lagoon offers unparalleled surroundings

Can you introduce us to Moss and what diners can expect from the restaurant?

Located on the highest point of the UNESCO Global Geopark on which The Retreat at Blue Lagoon sits, Moss restaurant reimagines Iceland’s culinary traditions through three tasting menus; five-course, seven-course, or vegan. With each dish, the culinary journey leads guests through the country’s seas, mountains, rivers and farms, highlighting the purest seasonal and regional ingredients.

Our mission is for visitors to have one of the most memorable experiences of their lives. I use the word experience and not meal because it is an experience at Moss – it is theatrical and it is art – I have an excellent team working alongside me and I truly believe we are on the right path to achieve this. My personal must-see while at Moss and The Retreat at Blue Lagoon is the wine cellar – our wine cellar is built down into a more than 800-year-old volcanic sphere which creates ideal conditions for the wine.

Is it exciting to be cooking in Iceland again?

It is great to be back after 20 years in the UK, and of course it’s fantastic to be in the Moss kitchen. We have a state-of-the-art kitchen, incredible staff and amazing fish. For 2021 and going into 2022, we want to take the restaurant to an even higher status.

The Retreat at The Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Moss at The Retreat at The Blue Lagoon, Iceland

You’ve worked to reinvent Icelandic cuisine – what does that mean to you?

I don’t want to reinvent Icelandic cuisine as such, I want to take it to different levels by modernising traditional Icelandic dishes. We have always used ancient Icelandic recipes from our culinary team’s families’ generations. By using recipes that are personal to us, it creates meaningful dishes that we can then modernise and add innovation with unexpected elements. There are boundless possibilities with Icelandic cuisine due to culinary and cultural traditions which make engaging and sensational dishes.

What do you wish more people outside of Iceland knew about Icelandic cuisine?

Icelandic cuisine is very similar to Nordic cuisine but what makes Icelandic cuisine so special, in my opinion, is our fish. It is the best in the world.

What ingredient could you not live without?

Fish – cod, halibut, Icelandic langoustines, Icelandic sea urchins. Can you tell I am a big seafood fan? Only when it is so fresh and done properly though.

Chef Aggi Sverrisson
Chef Aggi Sverrisson in action

Apart from Moss, what is your favourite restaurant in Iceland? And the world?

My favourite restaurant in the world is Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. I was trained by Raymond Blanc and Gary Jones and I learnt so much. Raymond taught me the importance of tasting food and seasonality. If you taste your food and you work with seasons, your dishes will do the talking.

What’s it like cooking with the Blue Lagoon as your backdrop?

Every day the Blue Lagoon that surrounds The Retreat inspires me. It highlights the power of nature – the Blue Lagoon has such an effect on people. I want to create a mesmerising effect that surprises Moss visitors through a culinary journey. Nature is behind everything I do at Moss.

What lessons have you learned from the past year that you’ll take with you?

I have learned to never take things for granted and you never know what happens tomorrow so fulfil all you want to in the day you have.

What are your ambitions for the future of Moss and Icelandic gastronomy?

My mission is for Moss to evolve into, deservedly in my opinion, one of the best restaurants in Scandinavia. We have an amazing team, some of the freshest and most simple ingredients. All the tools are there to make this one of the most renowned restaurants in the world, and together, I believe we can do it.