Real Life

This dad is bringing the taste of Australia to Iceland in a truly unique way

''There was just one thing I missed.''
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Waiting to check into my hostel, I saw a young woman beside me in the foyer.

As we got talking, I learned her name was Ingibjorg and, at 23, she’d left her home in Iceland to see the United States.

“I’m here for work,” I began, “but I actually live in Australia.”

Ingibjorg’s face lit up.

“I’m going to Australia soon!” she said.

With Ingibjorg.

(Image: Supplied)

As we chatted away, I offered her some tips and suggestions for when she arrived there.

But the two of us hit it off so well that we hung out every day and kept in touch constantly when she left at the end of the week.

After a year in our long-distance relationship, I decided it was time to leave my job and move to Iceland in 2016.

I’d never met another woman like Ingibjorg: she was outgoing and adventurous and I was sure we’d have a great future together.

But before I left, she had some advice: “Bring warm clothes.”

Life in Iceland was very different to Australia

(Image: Supplied)

As a Sydney-sider, I was used to mild winters so I purchased the warmest jacket I could find.

“What’s that?!” she asked, pointing to my jacket, when I arrived on a freezing day.

“My jacket,” I answered.

Ingibjorg laughed.

“No,” she corrected. “That’s a sweater!”

The weather in Iceland could be extreme, with wild winds and rain lashing from all directions, but the landscape of glaciers, lava fields and fjords was nothing short of stunning and we shared plenty of adventures.

Ingibjorg and I later married and had three children: Esja Ray, five, Ari Kai, two, and Moa Rya, six months.

With the family.

(Image: Supplied)

I loved my new life here, but there was one thing I really missed.

“I’d kill for a meat pie,” I said to some other Aussies and Kiwis also living there.

This dietary staple was one of the things they missed most, too.

But in Iceland the only pies you could find were sweet ones, made of apples or berries.

So me and my mate, Jakob, who’s half-Australian and half-Icelandic, started baking our own with some pie-makers I’d brought back from Harvey Norman when visiting my family.

Everyone loved them and as word got around, locals were just as keen as the expats.

With Jakob.

(Image: Supplied)

Demand grew and grew, until Jakob and I realised this wasn’t just a hobby anymore.

In late 2019, we opened Arctic Pies, in Reykjavik, the country’s capital.

It’s the only Australian restaurant in all of Iceland and for many travellers, provides a taste of home.

As time went by, we expanded our range from traditional meat pies to vegetable and sweet ones.

The pies are a hit!

(Image: Supplied)

In this year’s European Street Food Awards, our vegan pie even took home first place!

Considering my background was in business, not hospitality, I’m very impressed that my cooking skills have made such an impact.

Our eldest, Esja Ray, is the only one of my kids who’s had the chance to visit Australia due to lockdowns and border closures.

But I’m looking forward to bringing the whole family back over soon to show them my amazing country which, so far, they’ve only been able to experience through their dad’s cooking!

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