Serving Winnipeg's Jewish Community Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google BookmarksSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn Youtube

Ari SchorBy KAREN BURSHTEIN
The photo, already iconic, shows two guys in rolled up shirt sleeves, enjoying a dinner out, just two buddies catching up. Except that they were Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama and their dinner, which took place June 6 in Montreal, broke the internet.

Trudeau ObamaTrudeau took the former US president to Liverpool House in Montreal when Obama was in town giving a speech to the Montreal Board of Trade on June 6.
Naturally, the Twitter sphere was disseminating the photo from every angle. For some, the photo of Obama and Trudeau generated an aching nostalgia for a very near past, one in which political leaders engaged in productive conversation, and not talk about grabbing someone’s you know what or climate change denial.
For others it was a just a cool photo of a storied bromance. Foodies, on the other hand, were only interested in what they ate. (More like what didn’t they eat, when the full and copious menu was revealed.)
Liverpool House is a renowned Montreal restaurant with solid hipster credentials in the city’s gentrifying Little Burgundy neighbourhood. It’s co-owned by Allison Cunningham, and star chefs Frédéric Morin and David McMillan - who also own the equally popular Joe Beef restaurant. For Montrealers, there was pride that this Twitter-trending moment took place in their city, and just the right amount of blasé that the world was, for an evening, focused on a couple of people doing what so many do every night in Montreal: having a great meal out.
But Winnipeggers can claim a share of the story. Liverpool House’s chef de cuisine, the guy who cooked Trudeau and Obama’s meal, is Ariel Schor, a former Winnipegger, and a 2002 graduate of Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate.
Schor was born in Buenos Aires, and immigrated with his parent, Eduardo and Monica, and his brother Pablo to Winnipeg in 1997. After graduating from Joseph Wolinsky, he studied Culinary Arts at Red River, thenworked around Winnipeg restaurants, most recently at Pizzeria Gusto and at the Fairmont.
In 2012 he moved to Montreal to work at Joe Beef. He took over the Liverpool House kitchen a year later.
His love of cooking, he tells The Jewish Post & News, “really came from my family. My mother’s an amazing cook, so is my father. I have distinct memories of washing lettuce when I was five years. My father brought me something to stand on near the sink.”
For a while he thought of becoming a marine biologist. But restaurants won. “One summer my dad was like ‘do you want to go to B.B. Camp?’ I said, no I just want to hang around and go fishing by myself. My dad said ok, but you’re going to need a summer job.” So he got his first job, doing kitchen prep at Desserts Plus. And loved it.

Schor said he and his staff learned only the same day that they would be serving the two world leaders later that evening.
“We knew the PM was coming. You know, I’ve cooked for him four or five times already, even before he was prime minister. The day before, I was hanging out with one of my colleagues in the kitchen, and all of a sudden the Secret Service come in. They start snooping through things. The security people who‘d come for Justin didn’t ever do that.”
Knowing that Obama was in town, the team put two and two together, and figured out who’d be joining Trudeau that evening.
Owner McMillan told the CBC that security was, “ridiculous, like I’ve never seen in my life. Maybe 200 security plus the police, and the streets were blocked. There was SWAT in the backyard. Ninjas.” Word got out quickly and in under n half hour of the PM and former president’s arrival, at 7:30 p,, the security detail was joined by 1000 people who waited to get a glimpse of the bromantic pair.

Schor didn’t tell any of the staff until just before the PM and former president came in. “All the sudden at 5:30 we made them change into new uniforms we bought for them. And they were asking ‘what’s going on’, and we said ‘you’ll see’.”
How did they decide what to cook ? “We just kind of figured out what we wanted to do. Trudeau told us to just cook what we wanted,” Schor said.

Schor’s kitchen first sent out fresh salads, including a house salad of fresh, locally sourced fiddleheads, fennel and white asparagus, and a lobster salad, then some smoked fish. “I’d be a really bad Jewish boy if I didn’t have smoked fish on the menu all of the time,” he joked in an interview with Moneyish.com.
Then followed smoked ham and mussels and PEI oysters from Prince Edward Island.
And the food kept coming, including three mains: lobster spaghetti, one of the house’s signature dishes; dry-aged rib steak, that Liverpool House, like so many fine restaurants in Montreal had probably thought would go during the upcoming Grand Prix weekend when big spenders descend on the city; and an off-the-menu halibut with first morel mushrooms.
Schor served them dessert personally. Sister restaurant Joe Beef has a soft serve ice cream machine which they brought over to Liverpool House. Obama and Trudeau were also served profiteroles with a brown butter ice cream.
Wine included a bottle of Ontario Norman Hardie Estate.

Did the former president say what he liked best? “The halibut. And I’m really happy he liked it because it was something we did off the cuff,” Schor said.
Any idea what they talked about? “From what I gathered, a lot of it had to do with basically getting youth interested in politics. But we didn’t want to pry.”
After the meal, when Schor was greeting them Obama told the chef: “Get all the kitchen staff out here; we’re going to take picture. He didn’t ask. Just said it. Everyone was excited, ” Schor said.
Schor says the restaurant has since had customers coming asking for “The presidential menu,” as in: “We’ll have what they were having.”

Naturally, this was a career highlight, and something Schor will always remember. “The next morning it felt like: ‘Wow did that really just happen?’ “ he says.
Friends and relatives back in Winnipeg are sharing in the excitement. “The first thing I did was call my parents. I was losing my mind. They were so happy. Everyone’s really excited, asking a lot of questions.”

The Montreal restaurant had already been gearing up for a busy summer season, what with the 375th anniversary celebrations the city is planning, the city’s usual roster of festivals, and an increasing number of strong dollar American tourists. But, says Schor, “This is going to make our summer ridiculous. It’s a little bit nerve racking, but it’s all good.”

Add comment


Security code
Refresh