Just after 7 a.m. on Friday, a special delivery was rushed through the security checkpoint at the Royal York Hotel. After bypassing a phalanx of armed RCMP officers at the York Street entrance, the package was placed on a conveyer belt and scanned by an airport-style baggage screening machine manned by several private security guards.
The cloudy image on the grey screen was deemed unthreatening and the produce was returned to owner: The carrots had been granted security clearance.
Chef Ryan Gustafson, of the hotel's restaurant Epic, had been dispatched to St. Lawrence Market for a special delivery of vegetables from Golden Orchard Fine Foods. Like all the hotel's regular suppliers, the organic grocer was required to undergo special government vetting before this weekend's G20 summit, when the Royal York will feed some of the world's most influential leaders.
"We're excited and it takes a lot to get people excited around here," said the hotel's executive chef, David Garcelon.
In the Royal York kitchen, which stretches across the hotel's basement from York to Bay streets, Mr. Garcelon is overseeing an exercise in madcap culinary diplomacy.
The hotel's 1,365 rooms are filled with international delegates, all of whom seem to be eating on different time zones. Some European delegates have been enjoying their evenings at the Japanese steakhouse Benihana, while others pace the halls, consuming only coffee.
On Friday morning, one sous chef was busily wrapping melon in prosciutto, while a server loaded a room-service cart with coffee and cookies.
Indian-style paneer stuffed with coriander sizzled on the grill, next to slices of fresh tilapia being prepared for a delegate's lunch. Chefs in kitchen whites butchered bison for tenderloin, while a chilled soup was prepared for a lunch for the leaders' spouses.
But the kitchen is not a sovereign state.
One foreign leader checked in to the hotel with an entourage that included a number of chefs, who have been in close contact with Mr. Garcelon and his staff. "What they wanted was for us to cook what we cook in Canada. That's what they want their leader to experience," he said. "They're here to make sure it's acceptable."
Several delegations have brought their own food supplies, which the hotel is storing for them, while others have requested special orders of lobster. One world leader appears to be especially fond of British Columbia halibut.
International tastes are not the kitchen's only concern.
The entire hotel was swept by security and sniffer dogs were brought through the kitchen, which is also being regularly inspected by foreign bureaucrats and Canadian public health agencies. Samples of each meal are bagged by government employees and stored for inspection, just in case.
Mr. Garcelon has also been tasked with feeding the RCMP officers who are stationed throughout the hotel 24 hours a day, a group he characterizes as "fairly big eaters."
But he is distracted by the week's biggest event, a dinner for the G20 leaders Saturday night hosted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
To prepare the menu, he consulted with Mr. Harper's personal chef, Oliver Bartsch, and was advised against preparing anything difficult to eat.
"No soup, things that are easy to cut. It's a diverse group so we stayed away from things like pork," Mr. Garcelon said in the hotel kitchen Friday. "We tried to make it things that will appeal to a wide audience and would also represent Canada."
Saturday's dinner will begin with an appetizer of fresh Atlantic seafood followed by custom-aged filet mignon from the Spring Creek Ranch in Alberta, flown in especially for the occasion. Leaders will then sample a selection of Canadian cheeses, including a blue Juliette from Saltspring Island, B.C., a Toscano from Ontario's Monforte Dairy, and two Quebec artisan offerings - Le Belle de Jersey from Les Bergeries du Fjord and La Fleurmier from Laiterie Charlevoix. Each course will be paired with red and white Canadian wines, and the food will be served on white bone Villeroy & Boch china.
A dessert buffet will feature Nanaimo bars and the work of two Toronto chocolatiers.
Mr. Garcelon said he is confident the meal will be a success, but said several tweaks were made after the Prime Minister's Office forwarded dietary restrictions and allergies for each delegation.
It appears two world leaders are vegetarians and will be served a Portobello mushroom stuffed with cheese instead of filet mignon.
Kirstin Kotelko, president of Spring Creek Ranch, said she is happy most of the hotel's important guests will have a chance to try her hormone- and antibiotic-free beef.
"It's incredibly exciting," she said. "We're honoured to have our product served to our own Prime Minister and definitely Obama as well. I've heard he's quite a foodie."
In Washington, Mr. Obama has hosted two state dinners since he took office and asked that the meals be prepared by celebrity chefs Marcus Samuelsson and Rick Bayless. But Mr. Garcelon said he is unfazed by Saturday's clientele or the credentials of their palates.
"I'm pretty calm about it," he said.
He will not greet the leaders as they sample his cuisine and said Mr. Harper will not be handed a cheque at the end of Saturday's meal.
"No, you don't want to do that," he said. "I think everyone understands who's footing the bill."