Dinner fit for a president: Friday's menu showcases Canadian ingredients

Dinner fit for a president

United States President Joe Biden is staying in Ottawa on his short trip north of the border, but the catering team from the National Arts Centre plans to take him on a cross-country culinary tour Friday evening.

The president and first lady Jill Biden are set to be the guests of honour at a dinner hosted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum.

The meal, put together by executive chef Kenton Leier, features ingredients such as East Coast yellowfin tuna, Alberta beef, flaxseed, Quebec maple syrup and Yukon gold potatoes.

The three courses also include a cabernet sauvignon jus made with wine from Pelee Island Winery in Kingsville, Ont., and a rum caramel made of Newfoundland's famous Screech rum.

Because this isn't an official state dinner, Gov. Gen. Mary Simon and her husband, Whit Fraser, are relieved of hosting duties — though both will be in attendance.

The guest list also includes various cabinet ministers and leaders from Canada's business community, including Canadian American Business Council CEO Scotty Greenwood.

The Prime Minister's Office says all opposition party leaders were invited, along with former prime ministers, former ambassadors to Canada and the U.S. and members of the prime minister's NAFTA advisory council.

The occasion did not escape the partisan bickering that so often takes over Parliament Hill.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre will dine with Trudeau and Biden, but his attendance had been in doubt earlier Friday, with his office saying it had no record of receiving an invitation.

The Prime Minister's Office insisted that Poilievre was invited via email on March 15, and said he was still welcome. But the email was sent to an inactive account for Poilievre, which returns an automated response saying it is not monitored.

Before that got sorted out, Poilievre's office accused the PMO of "playing childish games."

Jean Chrétien and Joe Clark will also be in the room Friday evening, along with former envoys Bruce Heyman, James Blanchard, Gordon Giffin, David Jacobson and David MacNaughton.

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor are also expected to be there.

Earlier on Friday, the two received a standing ovation in the House of Commons ahead of Biden's address to Parliament. It was their first public appearance since their release from Chinese detention in 2021.

The two were detained for more than 1,000 days, charged with spying offences in apparent retaliation for Canada's arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in 2018 at the request of the U.S. government.

National Indigenous organizations will be represented by Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Natan Obed, and Métis National Council president Cassidy Caron.

Caron said she felt it was important to be there "to show the progress we are making as a nation" and to build relationships.

There will be performances by the Métis Jiggers, Inuit throat singers, an Algonquin drum group called Eagle River and musician Tyler Shaw.

Celebrity guests include filmmaker Sarah Polley, actors Eugene Levy and Gabriel LaBelle, comedian Mark Critch and musician Alan Doyle.

Other invitees include representatives of groups such as Egale Canada, Unifor, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, gun control group PolySeSouvient and Rainbow Railroad. The CEOs of GM Canada and Moderna are also on the list.

Biden attended a dinner in his honour in Ottawa in 2016, when he was vice-president to Barack Obama, and gave a toast that highlighted the deep ties between the U.S. and Canada.

The full menu for Friday night:

First course

— Cedar salt and seaweed crusted rare-seared East Coast yellowfin tuna

— White bean hummus, cucumber, pickled radish and bitter greens

— Flaxseed cracker and lemon parsley emulsion

Main course

— Alberta beef braised short rib

— Butternut squash purée and Yukon gold potato pavé

— Wildflower honey roasted carrots and fine green beans

— Pelee Island cabernet sauvignon jus


— Wild blueberry and Quebec maple mousse cake

— Screech rum caramel and sweetgrass meringue

— Fresh berries

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