Dining with the PM: What's for dinner on his plane and at leaders' summits

The organizers of the leaders summit for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit are promising “a gastronomical adventure of Singapore” when we get there after our 27 hour plane ride from Ottawa. I, for one, welcome this attention to the gustatory needs of political leaders, delegates, NGOs, and journalists.
APEC, like G8, G20 or other international summits are, from an organizational standpoint, much like any large conference you've ever been to and that includes feeding the participants. For summits, the leaders' meals are usually highly stylized, formal sit-down affairs while everyone else queues up for buffet or cafeteria style servings in various conference fora.
APEC was in Lima, Peru last year and there, while it was pleasing that Peruvian organizers, too, tried to showcase the local epicure, there was often not enough food at the buffet — they seemed to have nothing but yogurt after I'd spent 30 minutes or more standing in line — and not of all it was, erm, tasty. At my first international summit, a G8 meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, the menu for journalists and delegates was monotonous. Every meal consisted of strange-looking sausages and luncheon meats served platters of smoked salmon and cheese. Happily, I'm nuts for smoked salmon and, even after three days and nine meals of nothing but smoked salmon I was keen to have more.
In Singapore, Mr. Soo Siew Keong, Programme Chair, APEC Accommodation, Hospitality and Singapore Experience Subcommittee, APEC Singapore 2009 Organising Committee says in the briefing materials I've been provided with that, “APEC delegates will be presented with a compelling buffet of culinary delights that is Uniquely Singapore.” Hurrah. Singapore cuisine, I'm informed, is derived from Chinese, Indian, Malay and Peranakan cultures.
As for the victuals until we get there, we are dining on good, old Canadian-prepared airplane food. Airplane caterer Caras stocks the Canadian Forces Polaris CC-150 (A modified Airbus 310) that ferries the prime minister around the world. The bill in Ottawa was just over $11,000 from Caras. (News organizations like Canwest, I should point out, always pay their way on these trips on a pro-rated cost-recovery basis. The Prime Minister's Office decides on the price. For this trip, which includes round-trip airfare to Singapore, Mumbai and New Delhi between now and next Thursday, news organizations are paying $7,000 per person for the flights, hotel, and filing facilities.) At lunch, served while we were high over Western Canada en route to a refueling stop in Anchorage, Alaska, we had a salad plate with a prosciutto and chedder cheese sandwich.
The meals on board CF 001 — the flight number of any plane the PM is on — are served by Canadian Forces personnel from Transport Squadron 437, based at CFB Trenton, Ont. I've been on several trips with the PM and I've always found the CF folks to be a pleasant and patient lot, though 27 hours in the air on this one may test all of us.
In any event, here was the menu for dinner served on our flight between Anchorage and our next refueling stop in Tokyo:
Lobster Appetizer
Choice of:
Grilled Atlantic Salmon
Black Truffle Butter
French Lentil Ragout
Green Beans and White Asparagus
Penne Pasta
Peppercorn Carbonara Sauce
Sun Dried Julienne Tomato and Roasted Yellow Peppers
Shredded Parmesan Cheese
Coffee, Tea
Peller Estates Okanagan Heritage Select Pinot Blanc 2007
Stratus Vineyards Red 2005

3 thoughts on “Dining with the PM: What's for dinner on his plane and at leaders' summits”

  1. Wasn't whining one bit — and no, I do not think taxpayers ought to cover the costs of the trip. I simply was stating that we are, in fact, paying lest you think taxpayers are paying. Considering the travel we are doing, I think the fee charged for this trip is very reasonable.

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